Why You Should Use VPN Service Over Public WiFi
Public WiFi is not a very secure network environment. It is possible to have man-in-the-middle attacks, or line sniffers that can see your network traffic as you transmit them from your computer to your servers. While websites with https secure connections (like your bank website) are safe and are immune from these exposures because they transmit via an encrypted channel. But if you are logging into other website without https like your WordPress blog or maybe certain email systems, those login passwords as well as your content are transmitted in clear text. You just hope that with all the people and traffic using public WiFi at a given time the chances that your particular traffic is being monitored by an hacker is slim. Depending on the sensitivity of your information, that may or may not be a risk you want to take.
And then there is Firesheep which can be used to hijack someone’s else session on the WiFi network.
To protect your transmissions on a non-secure public WiFi, you can use VPN services. You sign up for the paid service and install an VPN client application on your laptop. Then you use the application to connect to one of their VPN servers via an encrypted transmission. Their servers will then surf the web and send the server information back to you.
The transmission will be a bit slower and you will have a different public IP address. That is why these services advertise to provide you with private, secure, and free communication. Free means that if you are in a certain country where certain websites are not available or blocked, you can connect to a VPN server in a different country where that information is accessible. Free means the freedom of information. Not free as in the price. Most reputable VPN services requires an monthly or annual payment. Some you can find lifetime subscription. Private means that you take on a different IP address and essentially become anonymous on the internet.
To learn more about VPN service, Eli does a good job explaining in this YouTube…
PPTP is not secure. OpenVPN is best but requires installing a client app.
Free Private Browsing
Betternet VPN offers free VPN service (with sponsor ads). And it works for IOS, Android, Windows, etc.
If you want free OpenVPN, take a look at VPNBook.com
Alternatively, you can set up SSH socks for private Firefox browsing.
If you want private secure browsing on Chrome, you can install the Chrome TunnelBear plugin which will give you 500MB of data transfer for free, more if you upgrade to paid plan. And Opera plans on putting private VPN built into their browser.
Lifehacker has article on Five Best VPN Service Providers
Sitepoint article Opera VPN: The Future of Private Browsing which mentions that Opera plans to put Private VPN into their browsers.