How a VPN keeps you secure at starbucks hotspots

What juicy details are you revealing as you browse the web?

From your IP address, your approximate location is visible. If you’re transmitting any data such as form fields, usernames, or passwords over a website that’s not secured by HTTPS, it can be sniffed.

In fact, packets can be captured and reveal what you’re browsing.

 

 

The easiest place to prey on you and your data is on public WiFi hotspots.  Airports and coffee shops are big targets because many people use these hotspots.

It’s true that much of the internet uses HTTPS encryption. You’re safe browsing HTTPS secured sites, even on compromised public hotspots. The problem is getting caught off guard and sending data over an non-secure connection.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) solves this problem and encrypts ALL of your connections from your device.

 

VPN Tunnel

Let’s take a look at what happens when you access the internet normally without a VPN.

You type google.com into your browser and make a website request.  That request routes through your ISP to google.com

google.com routes a response through your ISP back to you and you see the website on your screen.

So what’s the problem?

The hotspot that you’re connected to is a middle man between you and the ISP. If the hotspot is compromised, you’re vulnerable.

This is where a VPN solution comes into the picture.

A VPN service is essentially a secure middle man between you and the internet. It’s an encrypted tunnel. When you access any website, the request always goes through the encrypted VPN tunnel and then the VPN server forwards your request to the website.

 

The website sends its response to the VPN and the VPN tunnel relays that response to you.

Nobody can sniff traffic or see what you’re requesting within that encrypted tunnel.

Even if you’re on a compromised WiFi hotspot using a VPN, the only thing that will be visible is you connecting to your VPN IP address. The actual data that passes through is encrypted.

The baddies and your ISP can’t see what websites you’re browsing. Your entire connection is encrypted and secure.

 

Commerical VPN vs your own VPN

I’ve tried using popular paid VPN services with poor results.  The problem was IP blacklisting. 

Websites tend to blacklist popular VPN IP addresses as they feel they are threats.

When using a premium VPN service, I couldn’t access several websites. Remember, you’re sharing a paid VPN IP address with lots of other people that are using that paid service.

I was able to resolve the blacklisting problem by setting up my own VPN on Vultr.  With Vultr, I had a dedicated IP that wasn’t shared with other users and therefore wasn’t blacklisted. I like this method and I’m sticking with it.

Do NOT torrent with your own VPN

Do NOT torrent questionable content with your own VPN. You’re the only person on the VPN and are easily identifiable.

That’s why premium VPN services exist.  There are many people on one premium VPN IP address (plausible deniability) and a premium VPN service doesn’t keep logs.

 

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