The best thing about public Wi-Fi is that it’s easily accessible and free. But it comes with a price. Free internet hotspots are unsecured – that’s why everyone should use a VPN. In this article, I’ll talk about how to get free Wi-Fi and how to protect yourself from the dangers that come with it.
Easiest ways to get free Wi-Fi
These methods might seem obvious, but just in case something slipped through cracks, here are a couple of easy ways to get free internet on the go:
Scour the surroundings for internet hotspots
Cafes, airports, hotels, parks, restaurants, bars, museums, bus or train stations, even theaters, and cinemas often offer free internet access for guests, customers, and passers-by. Look around and try to find the nearest place that could potentially have Wi-Fi.
Connect to a VPN, secure your internet traffic, and browse in any place with peace of mind.
Turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot
This method is especially useful if you’re traveling with someone else. Say your friend has mobile data, and you don’t. Instead of asking a friend to Google everything for you, ask him to turn on Personal Hotspot on his phone. Voilà, now you both have Wi-Fi.
If these tricks don’t work for you, there’s also an option to get Wi-Fi apps. I talk about their functions, pros and cons later in the article. It’s crucial to cover the dangers of free public networks first.
The Dangers of Free Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is convenient. Especially when you’re traveling and can’t access your mobile data. An open McDonald’s Wi-Fi can be a real hero by helping you navigate through online maps, buying public transport tickets, or getting a taxi.
However, be cautious while using unsecured public Wi-Fi. It’s one of the easiest ways for individuals to spy on your online activity and get a hold of your data. (You can skip straight to the segment, “Stay Secure on Public Wi-Fi.”)
The tools used to sniff your online activities don’t have to be sophisticated. The traffic that flows through an open Wi-Fi network is usually unsecured, which means it doesn’t have the type of encryption required to protect your internet data. If you decide to send sensitive information like credit card numbers, passwords, or texts through an unsecured Wi-Fi network, it provides an easy target for malicious agents to grab.
Are password-protected public networks secure?
Even password-protected networks are full of dangers. It’s easy for someone to listen in and capture your data when you’re on public Wi-Fi. It’s so easy that there are tutorials on YouTube on how to catch data on open Wi-Fi!
Fake public Wi-Fi
There are many methods used to exploit free Wi-Fi networks. One of the most common is the man in the middle attack (MITM). Cybercriminals will create a fake public network, and in most cases, the name they choose will be similar to the name of a hotel or restaurant that’s nearby. If you connect to this network, the hackers will snoop on all of the data that flows through it.
Besides, hackers can install packet sniffing software. It’s particularly dangerous as it records massive amounts of data, which can later be processed on demand.
The dangers increase when you decide to connect to free Wi-Fi using free apps. It gives hackers easy access to your personal information. You know the old saying — if you’re not paying, you’re the product. Some apps can track you even if you uninstall them.
Stay Secure on Public Wi-Fi
The good news is that you can keep your data secure and easily avoid most of the dangers. Here’s what you have to do:
Get a VPN for Wi-Fi
A VPN encrypts your data and hides your IP address wherever you go. It’s the most reliable way to ensure that your data is protected. You won’t have to worry about connecting to your bank account or sharing personal information via Facebook’s Messenger app.
Surfshark offers the most reasonable prices in the market (+ a 30-day money-back guarantee) and lets you connect unlimited devices from one account. Ensure safe browsing for all your travel buddies every time you’re connected to a public network.
Limit your online activity
What that means is that you shouldn’t log in to highly sensitive websites, e.g., bank accounts. Also, you shouldn’t share sensitive personal data when connected to an unprotected network. Finally, be sure to turn off sharing services when not in use.
When you visit HTTPS sites, you make it a lot more difficult for snoopers to crack your privacy. That “S” at the end of this abbreviation stands for “secure.” Click HERE to download the browser extension HTTPS everywhere, which was created and approved by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Avoid automatic connections
Malicious agents create artificial networks to phish for your data. If you allow automatic connections, it makes their job easier and faster. To avoid this, always confirm authenticity.
Create dedicated accounts
Sometimes, free Wi-Fi networks ask for your credentials. Usually, the providers simply gather users’ data and then sell it to marketers. Create a separate email account for such purposes. It’s safer, and you can avoid all of these spam messages afterward.
Now that I’ve covered how dangerous public Wi-Fi can be, and how to protect yourself from those dangers, let’s dive deep into Wi-Fi apps.
Get Free Wi-Fi Apps
Besides the usual methods of getting free Wi-Fi (using friends’ hotspots or going to McDonald’s), you can also get an app that has a database of Wi-Fi connections.
How does this work? All of the apps below have the same function — they find passwords of open networks or ones that aren’t adequately protected. Usually, the content is user-generated. It means that users themselves add and share the credentials of the available networks.
However, before I go on, I have to warn you that free things typically come with a non-financial cost. That is, until hackers get ahold of your bank account information through unprotected networks.
Such online dangers are avoidable as long as you don’t log into your bank account or share sensitive material while on public Wi-Fi. If constantly looking over your shoulder sounds tiring, use a VPN like Surfshark instead. It will do all the protective work for you.
To answer the question of what is the best free Wi-Fi app, I present you with eight options.
Wi-Fi Free Spot: The best choice for the USA
Wi-Fi Free Spot offers you a list of every available public location (by state > city/town > place). You’ll need an internet connection to access the directory for the first time. Don’t get turned off by the design of their website. While it is a little outdated, you’ll find that its information is valuable. You can get to it by clicking here.
- Allows you to click on a state and city to find information
- Other areas such as European and Asian countries, as well as Canada, are available
Wi-Fi Map: Extremely convenient for travellers
This app offers a significant number of free Wi-Fi spots located all around the world. You’ll be able to find free Wi-Fi in different airports, hotels, villages, towns, and cities. Wi-Fi Map is available for Windows users by accessing their website. You can also download this app for Android and iOS operating systems. A paid Pro version is available too and allows you to download an offline free Wi-Fi map. The app also allows you to share your internet with Facebook friends.
- Available for Web, iOS and Android
- Over 200 countries available
- 100 million free hotspots network
- 1 billion connections
- Paid Pro version available
Wi-Fi Finder: Works perfectly offline
Wi-Fi Finder is another great app that allows you to find Wi-Fi wherever you go. It also works offline, which makes it possible to find places you’re traveling to and download information on free Wi-Fi spots. They only include verified hotspots, speed, and type of venue.
- Available for Android and iOS
- Lists over 50,000 cities worldwide
- Ability to share your network
- Working offline
- Over 2 million hotspots
Instabridge: Gives you an ability to add passwords
The Instabridge app has a vast database of up-to-date passwords. It allows you to contribute to the content as well as connect to hotspots created by your Facebook friends or public connections.
- Available for iOS and Android
- Supports Family Sharing
- Offline maps included
- Supports WPA3, WPA2, WPA, and WEP
- Provides stats like data usage, popularity, and speed
Other apps to check:
- Osmino. For Android, for iOS.
- WiFox (developed for those who spend a lot of time in airports). For Android, for iOS.
- Open Signal. For Android, for iOS.
It’s fantastic to know that you can have the internet via an app wherever you go. Still, to make sure hackers can’t decrypt your data, you’ll need protection beyond these apps (including tricks like limiting your online activity or getting a VPN).
Free Wi-Fi networks:
Fon, a global network that offers its users to purchase a router and split the bandwidth – the majority is for the user, and what’s left – for nearby Fon users or even their Facebook friends.
Skyroam is very similar to Fon. The company offers travel hotspot Solis, which works in over 100 countries. Users pay a fee and get access to unlimited data.
To sum it up
You will no longer have to spend hours wondering how to get free Wi-Fi. Look out for popular gathering places, ask your friend to turn his phone into a hotspot, or use apps that help you connect to public Wi-Fi. Where there’s a problem, there’s a solution.
And don’t forget – whenever you’re out and about, you need to protect your internet traffic (including messaging apps, social media information, and banking credentials) from snoopers. Get a VPN for Wi-Fi to make sure your browsing activity is private and belongs only to you.
Free Wi-Fi won’t secure your digital life
But Surfshark willGet that protection