How to Use a VPN for Public Wifi Security


This wikiHow teaches you how to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) while in public. A VPN encrypts all information passed in between your computer and the Internet, making it much harder for attackers to sabotage or take advantage of your connection.

Part 1
Preparing to Use a VPN

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Virtual private networks (VPNs) typically require you to set up an account in order to access a server's name and address. You will need the VPN's name and address, as well as login credentials, to connect to a VPN. VPN services usually aren't free, but there are some reliable ones too, such as ProtonVPN, Cyber Ghost or Tunnel Bear. But if you need more security features, then you'll likely have to pay a monthly or yearly fee to continue access to the VPN. Be sure to research your VPN choice thoroughly in order to ensure the host isn't malicious. Many universities have dedicated VPNs for students.

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If you're using a public Wi-Fi server, this will usually entail asking the network manager for the network name and/or password. For example, if you're in a coffee shop, you may need to ask a member of the staff for the login credentials.

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It's wise to re-open your browsers once your VPN is established rather than keeping them open. You may also want to close any apps that have Internet access (e.g., Twitter or Google Drive).

Part 2
Using a VPN on iPhone

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This grey icon has an image of gears on it. You'll likely find it on the Home Screen.

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It's below the second group of settings items.

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This option is near the bottom of the page.

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It's near the top of the screen.

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Tap one of the following connection types: IKEv2 IPSec L2TP The connection type will likely depend on the VPN server itself. Look for an indication of the connection type in the VPN server's details.

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Depending on the connection type you choose, this step will vary; it usually includes filling out the following fields: Description - The network's description. Server - The VPN's address. Username - Your username for the VPN service. Password - Your password for the VPN service.

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It's in the top-right corner of the screen. Doing so will sign you into your VPN.

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It will turn green. Your browsing should now be hidden from others on the same network.

Part 3
Using a VPN on Android

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This gear-shaped icon is in the App Drawer.

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It's below the "Wireless & networks" section.

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You'll find this in the drop-down menu below the "Wireless & networks" heading.

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It's in the top-right corner of the screen. On a Samsung Galaxy, tap ADD VPN here instead.

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This will vary depending on your VPN's settings, but you will typically need to add the following: Connection type - The type of connection (e.g., PPTP) that your VPN uses. Check the details of your VPN subscription if you don't know this value. Server - Your VPN's server address or name. Username - The username or email address you use to sign into your VPN subscription account. Password - The password you use to sign into your VPN subscription account.

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It's in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Doing so will create your VPN.

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It should appear on the VPN page.

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This will sign you into your VPN service; your browsing traffic should now be hidden from other public network users.

Part 4
Using a VPN on Windows

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Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen.

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Click the gear-shaped icon in the lower-left side of the Start window.

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It's the globe-shaped icon in the middle of the Settings window.

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It's a tab on the left side of the window.

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You'll see this option at the top of the page.

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Do this in the field at the top of the pop-up window.

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Doing so will entail filling out the following fields: Connection name - The name of your VPN connection. Name this whatever you like. Server name or address - The VPN's address. VPN type - Your VPN's connection type. This will usually be PPTP. Type of sign-in info - You'll typically select Username and password here, but you can also set up a one-time password or a smart card. User name (optional) - Your VPN username. Password (optional) - Your VPN password.

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It's at the bottom of the page. Doing this saves your VPN and adds it to your computer's VPN page.

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It should now be on the VPN page of the Settings window.

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This option is at the bottom of the VPN's name card.

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Doing so will log you into the VPN, though you may need to confirm this step by logging into the VPN online and approving your computer. Your browsing traffic should now be hidden from other public network users.

Part 5
Using a VPN on Mac

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Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the screen.

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This option is near the top of the Apple drop-down menu.

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This purple, globe-shaped icon is in the middle of the System Preferences page.

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It's in the bottom-left corner of the Network page.

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Click the box to the right of "Interface:", then click VPN in the drop-down menu.

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Click the box to the right of "VPN Type", then select your VPN's connection type (e.g., L2TP over IPSec). The VPN's site should provide this information. Keep in mind that MacOS Sierra does not support PPTP connections.

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It can be whatever you want to name the network.

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Click the blue button in the bottom-right corner of the window.

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Enter the following information: Configuration - Select the "Default" option. Server Address - Type in your VPN's address here. Account Name - Type in your VPN's account name here.

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It's below the Account Name text field.

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Check the box to the left of your VPN's User Authentication option (e.g., Password) and then type the answer in.

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This section is near the bottom of the window. If you don't know which authentication your VPN uses, consult the details of your VPN subscription. Most VPN's use the "shared secret" option.

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It's near the bottom of the Authentication Settings window.

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You'll see this near the bottom of the window.

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Doing so will ensure that all sites you visit use the VPN connection.

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This saves your VPN settings and creates your network.

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It's below the Authentication Settings option. Doing so will prompt your Mac to connect to the VPN. Any traffic between your computer and the Internet should now be encrypted.