By using a VPN, you’re adding an encrypted gateway between your traffic and anyone who wants to hack you upon your online activities. VPNs are useful for safely using Wi-Fi networks that are not yours when you’re out. But under private Internet environment, a VPN will help protect you against other risks and allow you to unblock websites that are restricted otherwise.
Potential risks outside
It is difficult to guarantee that the networks you access outside are safe. How can you know what Wi-Fi network is reliable if you are at a coffee shop, for example? You’ll never know as along as the SSID isn’t posted somewhere. To trick people into using their Wi-Fi networks, sly bad guys can create access points with familiar names. Once the victim is online, the bad guy attacks the middle man and intercepts all information sent and received by the victims. It includes a great deal of ordinary things, but can also include bank accounts, login details and other sensitive information.
An attacker isn’t even needed to fool you, just trick your phone or computer will be enough. Many phones are programmed by default to link with known networks. Your devices can connect automatically without your knowledge, although an attacker uses the same name as a popular WLAN – think about Starbucks and Boingo Hotspot.
Such attacks may require a lot of uncertainties, but this will not bother a successful hacker. They will instead set up their malicious access point to switch SSIDs to match the devices they request. Admittedly, this attack is exotic, but it can be successfully performed. A few years ago, at Black Hat, a technology company discovered a poor access point that modified the SSID 1,047 times and connected 35,000 phones.
This condition is certainly in which you must have a VPN. The coded gateway it produces blocks anyone from seeing that they are on the same network as you— even the person who controls the network.
Potential risks at home
Under most conditions, we can be sure that our home networks are secure. It is almost impossible for a hacker to crash into a private home network, change your router and wait for it to break down. On the one hand, it is too complicated. On the other hand, if the hackers can only hack for once, it will not worth the hacker’s efforts. Normally after hacking, they would visit the network for several times to collect enough information. Also, the ideal situation is that after one attack, they could get as many users’ information as possible. Generally speaking, user number under a private network cannot meet their demand.
But still, there are risks. The largest potential target of hackers is the company that offers you Internet access. The US Congress allowed ISPs to sell user data and their online activities to all interested parties. ISPs claims that the owners of the data will be kept confidential during the sharing, but this still keeps users anxious.
It’s not just ISPs that are involved in what you do online. The effect of the 2013 revelations by Snowden indicates that NSA spying is far more omnipresent than before. With VPN services, they will strengthen the safety or your privacy information and your data will be more difficult to be checked.
Therefore, to ensure the highest level of safety, we still advise you to use VPNs even under private network environments.