Public WiFi connections have become ubiquitous, but are they safe? There’s a very good chance many of them aren’t, which is why you really need to consider securing your MacBook, iPad or iPhone when connecting to them.
Public WiFi Dangers
There are several things to worry about when you connect to a public WiFi connection. Here are just a few of them. Afterwards, I’ll tell you how to protect yourself.
HTML Code Injection
Have you ever been at a hotel and suddenly seen an ad or information about the hotel appear in your browser? If you have, you experienced the WiFi network injecting code into your browser atop the content of the site you were visiting. Code injection over public WiFi networks is a very real thing.
Now imagine visiting a site that requests login information or some other personal information. Except in this case, code has been injected by the public WiFi network that puts a fake form over the real one. And when you enter your information into the form, you unsuspectingly just gave a criminal your data.
Fake WiFi Networks
It’s easy to trust connecting to a public WiFi network, especially when the network name looks familiar or trustworthy. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what some criminals are hoping for. They trick you into connecting and using their network, only to then use exploits to infect and/or steal data from your computer.
When you connect to a public WiFi connection that’s not secure, other people on that connection can potentially intercept any unencrypted data that you send from your computer. That means any communication and text you send and receive could be read by a hacker.
Securing Your Public WiFi Connection Automatically
The best way to secure a public WiFi connection on your MacBook, iPad or iPhone is to use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs create a secure, encrypted connection to a trusted network. In other words, VPNs create a secure tunnel through the public WiFi network and actually use the Internet connection at the end of the tunnel. That means the only thing a public WiFi network sees coming and going from your computer is encrypted data.
Unfortunately, there’s a problem with VPNs and Apple products. They’re difficult to setup and you have to manually turn it on when you want to use it. Fortunately, there’s a very elegant solution to that problem, called Encrypt.me (formerly named Cloak).
Encrypt.me is a very affordable service that automatically turns on a VPN whenever you connect to an untrusted public WiFi network. I’ve been using it for several months now, and all I can say is that it’s fast and magical!
When I connect to a public WiFi network on my MacBook Pro, Encrypt.me automagically secures my connection before any data is sent from my computer. It works with macOS’ Notification Center, and displays messages when it’s securing your connection.
Encrypt.me also runs in the menubar, which provides access to Preferences and the ability to turn it off and on.
Encrypt.me also makes an iOS app that also automagically secures public WiFi connections. Whenever I connect to a public WiFi network, I automatically get the VPN icon on the top bar of my iPhone and iPad.