Public WiFi is great when you have a couple of hours to kill at the airport. What’s not so great is worrying how secure my details are while I’m checking my bank balance online to see if I can afford that bottle of Jameson Whiskey. When connecting to unsecured WiFi, your privacy is at risk as hackers can spy on the network and get their hands on your details.
I gave Norton’s new mobile VPN (virtual private network) — WiFi Privacy — a go to see how easy it was to protect my info while I was out and about using public WiFi. A VPN protects your privacy by changing your phone’s IP (internet protocol) address and encrypting your data.
This app did just that — successfully masking my IP address and protecting my data, which we tested with some software.
Norton WiFi Privacy is an easy-to-use app for Android and iOS mobile devices; all I had to do was set it, then forget it. I liked that whenever it detected I was connected to an unsecured “public” WiFi, the VPN automatically activated. You can also activate it manually if you’re using secured WiFi you don’t trust. The app displays a key icon in your notifications while it’s protecting your device, so you know it’s working. It’s free to download but requires an annual subscription of US$30 (NZ$41).
The new IP address a VPN assigns your device comes from a server in another location, usually a different country. It’s best to connect to a server as close as possible to your location, as longer distances can affect speeds. WiFi Privacy doesn’t have any New Zealand servers, so it defaults to the nearest server (in Sydney). This might seem far away, but I didn’t have any speed issues and could happily stream Spotify. You can also manually select a server from the 16 countries it has available.
WiFi Privacy offers protection with minimal fuss. It’s simple enough for basic users but it also has advanced features for those wanting more control, such as being able to turn off the automatic connection and blocking ad trackers. For the peace of mind it offers, Norton WiFi Privacy is definitely an app I’d recommend for anyone using public WiFi.
- Available from: Android and iOS app stores
- Minimum requirements: Android 4.0.3 or iOS 8.0
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by Erin Bennett