Public Hotspot Safety Hinges on VPNs

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InformationWeek has just published an article about how your safety on public wifi revolves around VPNs.  This is exactly what we’ve been saying, and it’s a well known fact that using a public/open wifi network can leave you vulnerable to hacking.  We all love to get free wifi access while at the hotel, airport, library, or coffee shop – but we don’t always consider the consequences.  Those consequences can include someone stealing your email or facebook, as well as someone literally stealing every single packet of traffic from your computer.  Yeah, it’s really that bad.  InformationWeek tackles this subject in their article and makes a strong recommendation in favor of personal VPNs as the best solution.  Needless to say, that caught our attention, and of course, met with all of our editors approval!

In the article, IW goes so far as to compare open wifi with the crap in the gutter:  “public Wi-Fi networks are to security what an open gutter is to hygiene.” Big points for this description and analogy, and unfortunately, it’s completely true!  We all had a good chuckle.  The article also mentions the growing presence of wifi networks acting as honeypots and how this can lead to a worst case scenario of total compromise to all of your internet traffic, “a rogue access point diverts all your traffic through a hacker’s PC, where it can be captured, analyzed, and mined for passwords and other sensitive information.”  Ouch.  Yeah, we’d say crap in the gutter is appropriate, wouldn’t you?

So how do you deal with this issue?  You obviously aren’t going to stop connecting to free wifi.  That’s ridiculous.  A client side firewall won’t work either.  HTTPS is a decent approach, but as IW continues, both of these solutions are, “are helpful but insufficient”.  Damn, so what then?  Well, it’s been clear to us here at that a personal VPN is the best answer.  Apparently IW agrees, “a VPN prevents wireless snooping; provides a tripwire, alerting you to man-in-the-middle attacks (since your VPN connection will likely fail); and encrypts the network payload should you be diverted through such an attack.

Alright then, we’ve recognized the problem, and identified the solution.  The only thing left is to execute and implement the solution.  This means choosing a provider.  Of course we work hard at giving you comparison guides, editor reviews, and access to user reviews on the various providers.  We also make sure to do in depth vpn reviews, and conduct speed tests so you can determine which provider is right for you.  IW actually comes out in favor of WiTopia.  We like those guys, but they only offer 12 month plans.  Still, when you calculate the monthly cost, it’s fairly low.  Overall, you’ll actually find them near the top of our list with a high editors rating.

If you’re looking for other options, head on over to our VPN Comparison Guide to see which providers are tops.  We’ve also got in depth VPN reviews and speed tests recently completed for some of our favorites:  HideMyAss, VPNTunnel.SE,, and VyprVPN (OpenVPN & L2TP/PPTP).  Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but it’s clear that the experts are now coming out in favor, quite loudly, of personal VPNs.  We suggest you heed their advice!

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