Everyone has their “favorite” local cafe. Whether it’s the closest Starbucks to your house or the artisanal hipster place that draws a foam cat on top of your latte, the cafe has become a staple in every neighborhood around the world.
It’s not just a place for you to get a quick coffee, though. Half the experience is sometimes just being able to sit down with your laptop, grab a scone (or two), and slowly sip on a coffee while you work on your latest screenplay. This means it’s important that every cafe have a reliable WiFi signal that will last through your second and third espresso, but what are the risks that come with using a public hotspot like that?
It may seem like you’re just enjoying another leisurely day aimlessly browsing Tumblr while you down a cappuccino, but behind the scenes a hacker may be sitting right across the shop from you, stealing all your personal information and you wouldn’t even know it.
So how can you stop a hacker from finding out everything about you, from your bank account number to whether you like your mocha with whip on top? Read on in our guide to right VPN for cafes to find out!
Why Cafes Are Hacker Goldmines
The biggest misconception that most people have about hackers is that all of their job is spent sitting behind a keyboard trying to create some super password-cracking code, maybe on a black screen with green text. In actuality, much of what a hacker does to get into an account or steal your identity involves something else known as “social engineering”. Social engineering relies on what the star of the hacking show Mr. Robot calls the biggest exploit of all: people.
See, unlike passwords which can be encrypted (and therefore 100% protected from the eyes of a hacker), people themselves are fallible. They click on the wrong link, open the wrong attachment - or in the case of cafes - sign onto the wrong WiFi network.
Because people immediately expect there to be WiFi whenever they go to a coffee shop (I mean what civilized cafe doesn’t, am I right?), that expectation can be used by hackers who know how to exploit it. By creating a dummy WiFi hotspot with a similar name to the WiFi at your cafe (Joes-Coffee-WiFi vs. JoesCoffee-WiFi, for example), they can fool unsuspecting people into signing over their information to a network that was made to spy on any data streams which pass through it.
But Wait, There’s More
That’s not all though. Packet sniffers are another popular tool that can yield huge results for hackers if they deploy them in a crowded enough place. Hackers use packet sniffers to launch what’s known as a “man-in-the-middle” attack, which basically skims all the information transmitted from your device to the cafe’s wireless router and back again.
The packet sniffer runs from the hacker’s computer (or more likely laptop, in this scenario), and silently scopes out the channels of traffic that are connecting to and from any given router. Although the process is probably a bit slow to capture anything meaningful from people who are in and out in five minutes or less, where hackers make their big money is the people who stick around. Those who like to make a day of going to the cafe, and may spend hours at a time browsing from their laptop or iPad.
If person signs into any online banking tools, social media, or enter more sensitive data like their home address or social security number during these browsing sessions, it may only take as long as your double latte takes to cool down before the hacker’s got your identity hijacked and all your accounts drained to the bone.
How Can VPN.com Help?
Hackers have a handy set of tricks and tools they like to use to steal your information, but with a VPN from VPN.com, you’ll have your own weapon that’s ready and waiting to fight back.
Earlier we mentioned that always making sure you’re connecting to the cafe’s own WiFi instead of a phony network is a great way to stay one step ahead of hackers, but what should you do in the case of them using a packet sniffer?
Packet sniffers never require anyone to accidentally log into the wrong network. All they do is glean data transmitted to and from the real router while they’re connected to it - essentially rendering anyone in the area helpless to the attack.
But not you! With the help of a VPN, you can 100% guarantee that none of your valuable information gets stolen while you try and decide between a croissant or a banana for breakfast. This is because every connection sent through VPN.com’s servers are protected by a 256-bit military grade layer of encryption, which essentially jumbles up all your data while it’s on your device and sends it on its merry way.
This completely disables any man-in-the-middle attacks in their tracks, rendering the effort useless and giving you the peace of mind to connect to any public WiFi hotspot without fear.
If you want to be absolutely certain that any cafe you choose to patronize will never end up costing you your identity, sign up for your first subscription for VPN.com today!