How to: Access a public Wi-Fi hotspot securely

How to: Access a public Wi-Fi hotspot securely

Protecting yourself is simple even when using free unencrypted Wi-Fi hotspots. All you need is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Fact one: free Wi-Fi hotspots are incredibly convenient. Need to get online? Pop into a coffee shop and log onto their network while enjoying a skinny latte. Sounds perfect, but it also brings us to fact two: many of these hotspots are unencrypted, meaning all the data you send and receive can be intercepted and read by others. Not only that, but any shared folders on your PC are accessible too.

So, how do you protect yourself without losing the convenience of a free hotspot ? The simplest solution is to send your traffic through a Virtual Private Network (or VPN to its friends). VPNs act as an intermediary through which your data travels – safe and encrypted – so you’re always protected. And setting up is as easy as ordering a coffee...

1. Set up connection

 

Look for the network icon in the taskbar ’s notification area in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Right-click this and choose ‘Open Network And Sharing Center’. Click the ‘Set Up A New Connection Or Network Link’ to open a new wizard. Start by selecting ‘Connect To A Workplace’ and hit ‘Next’. Click ‘Use My Internet Connection (VPN)’. Type ‘bestukvpn.com’ into the ‘Internet Address:’ field and change the ‘Destination Name:’ to ‘BestUKVPN’. Windows 7 users should tick ‘Don’t Connect Now; Just Set It Up So I Can Connect Later’ before clicking ‘Next’. Click ‘Create’ to set up the connection.

2. Additional steps

Windows 7 users should now type ‘free’ into the ‘Username’ field. Leave the ‘Password’ and ‘Domain (Optional)’ fields empty and hit ‘Create’. When the connection is set up, click ‘Close’ to finish the process.

3. Configure connection

Windows 8 users will see the new connection appear in the networks list on the right-hand side of the screen (if it doesn’t appear, click the network icon in the taskbar ’s notification area). Right-click it and choose ‘View Connection Properties’. Windows 7 users should click the ‘Start’ button again, type ‘network’ into the search box and click ‘View Network Connections’ from the list that appears. Right-click the ‘BestUKVPN’ entry and choose ‘Properties’.

Now switch to the ‘Networking’ tab and de-select everything except for ‘Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)’. Once done, switch to the ‘Security’ tab.

4. Set up security options

Click the ‘Type Of VPN’ dropdown menu and select ‘Point To Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP)’, then click the ‘Data Encryption ’ dropdown menu and choose ‘Maximum Strength Encryption (Disconnect If Server Declines)’. Under ‘Authentication’ select ‘Allow These Protocols’, then make sure all options except ‘Microsoft CHAP Version 2 (MS-CHAP v2)’ are unticked. Hit ‘OK’ when you’re done.

5. Connect via VPN

Open your web browser and head to www.bestukvpn.com. Beneath the PPTP Server, you’ll spot a four-digit password. Jot it down, as you’ll need it later. We now need to the test the connection is up and running. Hit the network icon in your taskbar and click ‘BestUKVPN’. Tap ‘Connect’ and enter ‘free’ into the username box if it’s blank, and the four-digit password you noted, before hitting ‘Connect’ once again.

If everything is in order, another click on the network taskbar should reveal that the BestUKVPN connection is, well, connected. If a ‘Set Network Location’ warning flashes up, selecting ‘Public Network’ will give you maximum protection. To be completely secure, tick ‘Treat All Future Networks That I Connect To As Public’. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

6. Verify connection

The final test is to check that the connection is operating well. Go back to www.bestukvpn.com and scroll down to the ‘Powered by IP2Location.com’ box. If the ISP is set to ‘UK2-LTD’, your internet use is being directed safely through BestUKVPN. You can switch the connection off by heading back to the network taskbar icon, hitting ‘BestUKVPN’ and clicking ‘Disconnect’.

From now on, every time you use free Wi-Fi with no encryption , go to www.bestukvpn.com, check the latest password and go back through the BestUKVPN to secure your web-surfing. If you get an ‘error 619’ when attempting to connect from home, check your router ’s settings to see if ‘PPTP Pass-Through’ is enabled.