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Kudos3 Stats

What Is a VPN? And Why You Should Use a VPN on Public Wi-Fi

If you’ve ever wondered if it’s safe to use public Wi-Fi, you are not alone. In fact, according to the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, 6 in 10 consumers believe using public Wi-Fi is riskier than using a public restroom. And it is. Surfing the Web or transacting on an unsecured Wi-Fi network means you’re placing your private information and anonymity at risk. That’s why a virtual private network, better known as a VPN, is a must for anyone worried about online security and privacy.

What Is a VPN?

A virtual private network gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public Internet connection. VPNs mask your Internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Most important, VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections, guaranteed to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.

Why You Need a VPN

Think about all the times you’ve been on the go, reading emails while in line at the coffee shop, or checking your bank account while waiting at the doctor’s office. Unless you were logged into a private Wi-Fi network that required a password, any data transmitted during your online session was likely vulnerable to eavesdropping by strangers using the same network.

The encryption and anonymity that a VPN provides protects all of your online activities: sending emails, shopping online, or paying bills. VPNs also help keep your Web browsing anonymous.

Beyond Security

VPNs essentially create a data tunnel between your local network and an exit node in another location, which could be thousands of miles away, making it seem as if you’re in another place. This benefit makes VPNs valuable for people who live in countries that censor access to specific websites. It will also allow you to continue enjoying your favorite apps and websites from anywhere in the world, as if you were at home.

How to Choose a VPN

The best way to stay secure when using public Wi-Fi is to use a VPN solution, like Norton WiFi Privacy, which is compatible with Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, as well as with Windows PCs and Apple Macs. Here are some questions to ask when you’re choosing a VPN provider.

  1. Do they respect your privacy? The point of using a VPN is to protect your privacy, so it’s crucial that your VPN provider respects your privacy, too. They should have a no-log policy, which means that they never track or log your online activities.
  2. Do they run the most current protocol? OpenVPN provides stronger security than other protocols, such as PPTP.
  3. Do they set data limits? Depending on your Internet usage, bandwidth may be a large deciding factor for you. Make sure their services match your needs by checking to see if you’ll get full, unmetered bandwidth without data limits. Remember, some packages may not cost you money, but you’ll be subjected to frequent advertisements instead.
  4. Where are the servers located? Decide which server locations are important to you. If you want to appear as if you’re accessing the Web from a certain locale, make sure there’s a server in that country.
  5. Will you be able to set up VPN access on multiple devices? If you are like the average consumer, you use between three and five devices. Ideally, you’d be able to use the VPN on all of them at the same time.
  6. What happens if the VPN goes down? Be sure that your provider implements a kill switch system in the event of failure. This means that your connection would automatically be locked down and would not default to an unsecured Internet connection if something goes wrong.

There are many points to consider when you’re choosing a VPN provider, so do your homework to make sure you’re getting the best fit for your needs. Regardless of which provider you choose, rest assured that any good VPN will provide far more security, privacy, and anonymity online than any public Wi-Fi hotspot ever could.

 

Watch this 30-second video that highlights how VPNs protect you on public Wi-Fi.

Want to know more about the dangers of using public Wi-Fi? And how to protect your private information on public hotspots? Read these blogs to learn even more tips about staying safe on public Wi-Fi.

The Dos and Don’ts of Using Public Wi-Fi

The Risks of Public Wi-Fi

Your Summer Vacation Guide to Mobile Device and Public Wi-Fi Security

Why Hackers Love Public Wi-Fi

How to Avoid Public Wi-Fi Woes on a Business Trip

How Safe Is Surfing on 4G vs. Wi-Fi?

What Is a No-Log VPN?

How a VPN Can Help Hide Your Search History​

Comments

Kudos1 Stats

Hello,

A Norton product which is not available for my country (Belgium).

Kudos2 Stats

We'll be making it available in Belgium very soon.  Stand by!  And thanks for your interest.

F.

Kudos1 Stats

Thanks for the update, sonfly1. 

Kudos2 Stats

Hi Michel,

We're happy you are interested in trying Norton WiFi Privacy, now available on the Google Play store in Belgium. Please let us know what you think.

Kudos0

Michael - Norton Wifi Privacy is now available in Belgium.  We hope you like it!!

Kudos1 Stats

Hello,

Thanks for this information.

Kudos0

Yes, VPN is good, but very often even when you use VPN, it is possible to single out your real IP address. Before going online at work we check the anonymity via 2ip.io/privacy/ . The system will try to single out your real IP and if it doesn't - you can safely go online

Kudos0
Hmmm. Thanks m8. I'm going to use that. I hope it's safe. LOL - Art
Words of Wisdom: ["THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS"] - Grandparents [There has never been an original thought.] - Someone, I'm sure [I've spent my whole life 'polishing turds'] - Me
Kudos0

What tablets will this work on?  Surface Pro 4?

Kudos0

Thanks to great user feedback like yours, we are constantly evaluating new features and platform/OS options. Stay tuned to our blogs for future product announcements.

Edited to clarify future offerings.

Kudos0

I hope that Norton will come up with a Laptop VPN VERY, VERY soon!

Kudos0

Please stay tuned. :)

Kudos0

Do you have a similar product for pc's? Or is it part of some other Norton suite? 

Kudos0

Hi. Norton WiFi Privacy is not part of the Norton Security suite. Please visit us.norton.com/wi-fi-privacy more information about the product and system requirements. We are constantly evaluating new features and platform/OS options based user feedback like this. 

Edited to clarify future offerings.

Kudos0

Please let us know if you have more questions.

Kudos0

When will this product wi fi security vpn be available for Amazon fire tablets?

Kudos0

Thanks for your question. Thanks to user feedback like yours, we are always evaluating the possibilities for new product features and expansion on to other platforms. For more questions, you may want to see if they are answered in the the FAQs here: https://community.norton.com/en/blogs/product-update-announcements/intro....

Edited to clarify future offerings. 

Kudos0

I'm not a techie.  But if my laptop or my smartphone is on Norton,.  Does that mean I have VPN protection when I use the public Wi-Fi?

Kudos0

I chat asked Norton about this and the answer is apparently NO, you have to purchase a Norton wi fi privacy vpn app for the vpn protection when using hotspots while traveling. At home you have vpn protection through your internet service. That's $29... extra a year per device currently. And it is for Apple and Android only platforms.

Kudos0

Hi missouri59. Thank you for reaching out to our great online support team, and for sharing this information with other readers.

Kudos0

I'm confused ....

I subscribed to "Norton Hot Spot" (NHS) some time back and in the middle of my subscription ... I was informed that the NHS product was being discontinued and I needed to migrate to an offering by another company:  Hotspot Shield by AnchorFree.

Is Norton back in the game? 

what's going on?

Thanks.....

Kudos1 Stats
Yes Norton now has a product WiFi security vpn.
Kudos0

Hi NCHoser. We're glad you subscribed to Norton Hot Spot. Many customers loved that app, so we're hopeful that people will enjoy the public Wi-Fi protection that Norton WiFi Privacy provides. 

Kudos0

I use my laptop everywhere.. no VPN for laptops?? :(

Kudos0

Many companies have vpn for laptops, I do not know which ones are the best.

Kudos0

Hi Anonmous123. Thanks for your question. Thanks to user feedback like yours, we are constantly evaluating new features and platform/OS support. Keep an eye on our blogs for future product update announcements.

Edited to clarify future product offerings.

Kudos0

Tried to get the app (I already have the Norton Mobile Security installed) but then I get a message that my device is not supported.

I Sony Xperia Z such an old device?  Will it be supported in the future?

If I plan on replacing it, how can I tell in advance what mobile is compatible with Norton products?

Thanks. 

Kudos1 Stats

I would go to Norton chat on your account before you replace anything to see what they actually cover. Because it is a lot of money for these devices only to find they are not compatible like the fire tablets. I do not get why a Norton person has not answered any of the questions on this site- so I use the chat option n my account. Currently Norton is supporting android and apple products however not many amazon fire. And google stuff does not work on fire.

Kudos0

Hi Eyal Shahar. We're glad you are using Norton Mobile Security and thank you for your interest in further protecting your Sony Xperia Z. Unfortunately, Norton WiFi Privacy is currently only compatible with Android and iOS mobile devices. Chat support should be able to help you with further questions, or you could check us.norton.com/wi-fi-privacy or https://community.norton.com/en/blogs/product-update-announcements/intro... for more details.
Thanks to user feedback like yours, we are always evaluating the possibilities of new features and expanding upon other platforms. Stay tuned to the blog for future product updates!

Edited to clarify future product offerings.

Kudos0

At the moment, I'm online at home, however, I have gone to the main branch library and church with my laptop and it would be great to use the WiFi access without wondering if someone is piggybacking of my signal and looking at my laptop's contents. I like this VPN. I'll get it installed the next time I renew Norton on my laptop.

Kudos0

Hi LRenayHawk. Thank you being a loyal Norton customer! We're glad you're interested in Norton WiFi Privacy, and wanted you to know that thanks to user feedback like yours, we are constantly evaluating new features and platform/OS support. Keep an eye on our blogs for future product update announcements.

Edited to clarify future offerings.

Kudos0

I use ExpressVPN. I did a lot of research on VPNs and this one was given the highest marks. It works very well for me, and you can put it both on your phone and on your laptop. It is a paid service; for 12 months, it's $9/month. Well worth it. Norton's new product is only half a loaf. And we're all still waiting for some Nortonite to respond to all these messages. If Norton were really all that concerned about your laptop's security, they would at least give you some useful information about how to do that, if they do not have such a product themselves. And why don't they? Beats me. ExpressVPN does the trick.

A fun aside: I'm what's called a "Russia hand." I managed a lot of our science cooperation with the USSR and later. 20 years ago, I met a very nice Russian couple in Moscow who were both computer programmers who told me that they worked in a secret facility (the Russians call it a "yashchik," literally a "post office box"). They had a dog. They named the dog "Norton." I actually thought that was a pretty good endorsement for Norton and I've used it ever since. But then again, there's that dog. What were they thinking? Go figure.

Kudos0

Hello everybody. Thank you for all of your great comments, questions, and interest in Norton WiFi Privacy! We will try to reply individually, but in the meantime you may want to check out some of Norton WiFi Privacy FAQs: https://community.norton.com/en/blogs/product-update-announcements/intro.... You'll also find a link to ask more technical questions on that page.

Kudos0

Hi. I've been a Norton user for over a decade I believe, and I'm so glad to hear about this.

If I get the app then run wifi through my phone's hot spot to my pc, is my computer protected?

Kudos0

Hi NortonUser48221! Thanks so much for being a loyal Norton customer! I'm glad you're excited about Norton WiFi Privacy. Your question is a good one. I have asked someone from the Product Team to respond to your comment. Please stand by ... :)

Kudos0

I see somebody from the Product Team responded to your question. I hope you find the information useful!

Kudos1 Stats

Hi NortonUser48221,thank you for your feedback. We are constantly evaluating new features and platform/OS support based on user feedback.

In the meantime, if all of your computer's WiFi traffic is being routed through your phone, and your phone is using Norton WiFi Privacy, then you will be protected.  Please let us know if you have any further questions!

Edited to clarify future offerings.

Kudos0

If a WiFi connection at a hotel is secure, would I still need the Norton WiFi Privacy or would the secure connection at a hotel be enough security to be able to type in sensitive data, such as passwords and credit card information? Also, if a hotel does have a secure connection, does this mean that the hotel is using a VPN? Thank you.

Kudos1 Stats
Hotel connections for guests are never secure, and they do not use VPN for such connections. If you're concerned about privacy, you should use a VPN. And if you're using a laptop and not your phone, Norton's current app will not help. Use EXPRESS VPN or something similar. And once Norton comes out with something for laptops, compare prices.
Kudos1 Stats

Hi MissPiglet,

Hotel Wi-Fi is risky. Read this blog for some Wi-Fi tips to stay safe while traveling: Your Summer Vacation Guide to Mobile Device and Public Wi-Fi Security. Your best bet would still be to use a VPN, even if your hotel says their Wi-Fi is "secure". Hope you enjoy your travels!

Kudos1 Stats
Thank you for your response. This information is helpful because last year I was at a hotel and a family member had just bought his first ever Android smartphone. When we were deciding if we should order pizza through a website, we decided against it because we weren't sure if it was safe. I am so glad that we listened to our instincts! I like the article you linked too. Please keep up with these informative articles. They are generally easy to read even for people like me who are not technically informed. They are very helpful and the information could help prevent a lot of future aggravation for smartphone and computer users.
Kudos1 Stats

You're very welcome! Thank you for taking the time to comment and to provide such positive feedback. It's wonderful to hear that you find our articles informative, easy to read, and most important, helpful. Have a great weekend!

Kudos0

I'm unable to send emails on my iphone6+ when the Nortons WiFi privacy app is on.  I can receive emails and use the Internet but can't send any emails it stays in the outbox. I have done a live chat, had a phone call and neither could help and was advised to ask question here. 

Kudos0

Hello,

I think the reason is: Your Internet service provider does not agree an another SMTP as his.

SMTP=Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (the server used to send mails).

Kudos0

How to prevent android apps going online before Norton VPN makes a secure tunnel?
(on my android every time I switch-on the "wifi", during the time needed to Norton VPN to build up the tunnel, I can clearly see all my apps notifications appear, which means...  a lot of traffic has been exchanged "in clear"!!)

PS:
I'm not the only one to have detected this failure, please also refer to https://community.norton.com/en/forums/how-prevent-android-apps-going-online-norton-vpn-makes-secure-tunnel