Most people are unaware of the risks of using a public Wi-Fi. To illustrate the potential risks, a private cybersecurity firm, LE Global Services set-up a Wi-Fi that masqueraded as a franchise restaurant's Wi-Fi also termed as an 'evil-twin attack'. These type of attacks are trivial to setup and from this evil twin Wi-Fi, they were able to record the all the activities of those who mistakenly connected to the evil twin Wi-Fi and every e-mail address, username and password that was keyed in was captured. Once equipped with this information, they can easily steal your digital identity, send messages on your behalf and read sensitive data.
Although it was meant to be a private test, during the course of testing, three other public users connected to the evil Wi-Fi mistakenly which highlights how easy it is to become a victim. Even in our own personal experiences in public airports, we found many Wi-Fi hotspots that were masquerading as official airport or F&B outlets so the risk is clearly present and real but often overlooked. IT people also can find it difficult to distinguish between genuine hotspots or unsafe ones.
The simplest way to secure yourself would be not to connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots but this would sacrifice the convenience especially when travelling or on the move. A VPN would effectively mitigate these type of attacks from happening since even if you mistakenly connected to an evil twin Wi-Fi, your entire connection is already encrypted through the VPN making it very difficult for the attacker to decrypt the traffic. As an antivirus protects what's on your computer, a VPN protects the data flowing in and out of your computer and should be an essential part of your computer's security especially if you're frequently on the move. A VPN can aid in all forms uses no matter which kind of internet user you are, be it if you're looking to protect your privacy, or stream your favourite show.