ExpressVPN

5 Best VPNs for WiFi Hotspots

There has been a growing awareness in recent years of just how unsafe it is to connect to public WiFi hotspots such as those found in most airports, coffee shops and hotels. Although very convenient, especially for travelers for who do not wish to pay often extravagant roaming mobile data fees when away from home, unencrypted WiFi connections are fraught with perils.

The emergence of Firesheep in particular has shaken up the WiFi hotspot world, and focused the minds of security experts on the dangers of connecting to public WiFi networks. This add-on for Firefox is a packet snooper that lets even lay-persons with almost no hacking skills intercept unencrypted cookies sent from websites such as Facebook and Twitter over public networks. This allows them to “sidejack” a user’s current session, and effectively use a website as that user (although it won’t give the hacker access to usernames and passwords). The hacker could then download personal details, send spam, delete the user’s accounts or change their password, or even download unsavoury material using their account.

The problem is made worse by the existence of “evil twin hotspots”. Packet sniffers and the like will only work on unsecured networks, and only when connecting to unsecured websites (non-SSL .i.e. their address starts with http:// rather than https://), and on things such as POP3 email and FTP connections (POP3 snooping is particularly dangerous as it gives hackers access to a user’s email details when they sync with POP3 servers). It is common practice among hackers therefor to hang around public access hotspots, and set up fake mobile hotspots of their own, with names such as “Free Airport Public WiFi”.Users who make the mistake of connecting to one of these WiFi “traps” allow hackers to download their cache, and possibly access shared folders.

The hackers may also try to fool users into paying for internet access, and therefore handing over their payment details to the hacker.There is however a simple solution to these problems (other than just not using public WiFi), which is to use VPN. As a VPN connection creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server, no one, including both your own ISP and any public WiFi hackers, can ‘see’ the data you transmit (although the PPTP VPN protocol secured with MS-CHAPS encryption should be avoided as it is vulnerable to “man-in the middle attacks”).

As all VPN services (except for PPTP ones) do an equally good job at securing your WiFi signal against WiFi hotspot hacking attempts, our top 5 choice comes down mainly to other factors that make us want to recommend these particular services. We should point out that although we do commend some providers for offering 256-bit or higher encryption, this really is over kill (as discussed in this article), and 128-bit OpenVPN or L2TP/IPsec encryption is more than enough to foil any hacking attempt. If you’re looking for a great all-rounder, check out our 5 Best VPN Services for 2016 Post too.

Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

Buffered Logo
Read Review9.7/10
$8.25 / monthVisit Site

2

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review9.5/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

3

CyberGhost Logo
Read Review9.2/10
$5.83 / monthVisit Site

4

BTGuard Logo
Read Review9/10
$9.95 / monthVisit Site

5

TorGuard Logo
Read Review8.6/10
$4.99 / monthVisit Site

Winner

Buffered

4,85/5

  • PROS
  • Fast speeds
  • Excellent design and usability
  • Non-US
  • CONS
  • Higher priced

Buffered are a relatively new VPN company but one who provide excellent usability and speeds. They have servers in 30 different countries, but these include all the major important ones like US, UK, Netherlands. We really like their website and software, which is one of the reasons we recommend them for Macs, the design and usabiltity is excellent.

One amazing feature they have is a Wifi busting firewall detector, which you can use to detect which port is open in a protected wifi network. You can then use that port to bypass any payment system on a wifi network. AMAZING!

Their speeds were perfect when we tested them, there were no problems at all.

One of their big advantages is that they are based in Hungary, which does not have strict data retention rules and is outside the jurisdiction of major countries like the US and UK.

Their pricing is not the cheapest, but it is worth the price. Click the button below to sign up now!

Try Out the Best VPN for Skype Today!

» Visit Buffered

30 day moneyback guarantee

2nd place

ExpressVPN

4,75/5

ExpressVPN_Logo

  • PROS
  • Easy-to-use software
  • Excellent speeds
  • Good customer service
  • CONS
  • Bit pricy
  • But worth it for the features

ExpressVPN have been around for a while, and have slowly and methodically built a great company. When we tested them their speeds were excellent, the sofware was really easy to use, and their 24/7 customer service also delivered on the promises.

Their pricing is not the cheapest, but you do get what you pay for. As I said above, the price is worth these positive points. The company boasts servers in 78 different countries, which means you can appear to be in any country you want.

Click the button below to sign up to ExpressVPN now, you really can’t go wrong with them!

Visit ExpressVPN »


3rd place

CyberGhost

4,6/5

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Fast
  • Great VPN client with internet kill switch
  • Good free service (although not fast enough for 4oD)
  • 30 day free trial
  • 11 UK servers
  • CONS
  • Does not accept Bitcoin
  • VPN client is Windows only (although guides are provides for setting OpenVPN up on other devices)

Providing a speedy ‘no logs’ VPN service with a groovy VPN client, CyberGhost sets itself apart with a generous 1 month free trial of its paid-for service (making it very difficult not to recommend giving it at least a try), and the fact that it provides a rather good free service. Although the free service is technically limited to speeds of 1Mb/s (in practice we achieved a steady 2Mb/s), this may be more than enough for users who occasionally use public hotspots to check their email and do a bit of web surfing while enjoying a coffee or waiting for a flight. The only problem here is that CyberGhost provides no guides for using its OpenVPN only service with Android or iOS devices, but this should not be difficult to set up using the OpenVPN for Android and OpenVPN Connect for iOS apps.

 

» Visit CyberGhost


4th place

BTGuard

4,5/5

  • PROS
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • No logs
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • CONS
  • Very ‘no frills’

BTGuard is a Canadian company that has the distinction of being recommended by leading internet freedom and BitTorrent activist organization, TorrentFreak. We found the service a little on the basic side, with the open source OpenVPN client offering nothing in the way of extra features, and the speed test results, while perfectly ok, a little disappointing. That said, with 256-bit AES encryption and a strict no logs policy, BTGuard has it where it counts, and is both a solid choice for general VPN use and for securing wireless connections.

 

» Visit BTGuard


5th place

TorGuard

4,3/5

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Accepts Bitcoins
  • Very fast
  • UK servers
  • CONS
  • Asks for too much information during registration
  • Keeps that info for marketing reasons
  • Some connection problems
  • No free trial

We always feel a bit bad for the criticisms we make of TorGuard, because although valid, the underlying service is a great if slightly no frills (but not as no-frills as BTGuard’s), no logs, super secure one that gave us some of the best results we have yet seen during our speetest.net trials. What annoyed us was the amount of information asked during registration (although it is possible to sign-up anonymously using Bitcoin payments), and the fact this information may be used for marketing (though only of TorGuard’s own services, not third parties). Add some technical issues during connection, and TorGuard remains a recommended VPN provider but with a few caveats.

 

» Visit TorGuard


Conclusion

We cannot recommend the use of a VPN when connecting to the internet via a public WiFi hotspot highly enough. It is simply too insecure to not do so. Given that pretty near any VPN service will perform the job of securing your connection with an encrypted tunnel adequately, our recommendations are made on other factors that we like to see in a VPN service, such a dedication to anonymity (perhaps the main function of a VPN for most users), speed and reliability, and on these fronts all the VPNs listed above come with our seal of approval.


And here’s the summary once more:

Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

Buffered Logo
Read Review9.7/10
$8.25 / monthVisit Site

2

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review9.5/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

3

CyberGhost Logo
Read Review9.2/10
$5.83 / monthVisit Site

4

BTGuard Logo
Read Review9/10
$9.95 / monthVisit Site

5

TorGuard Logo
Read Review8.6/10
$4.99 / monthVisit Site

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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15 responses to “5 Best VPNs for WiFi Hotspots

  1. Warm Greetings Douglas Crawford,

    Hope you are well.

    Need your guidance…. please.
    There are too many vpn generes on your terrific site. I am overwhelmed & confused which one to use. Can you guide me a little?

    I have two latptops. One windows & another apple.
    I use them from my office…. AND also on public wifi networks.
    I also use the stellar Kaspersky Total Securty Suite 2016. Which protects
    exquisitely.

    Which the best vpn for me?
    As I already have an Kaspersky internet security suite…..
    ….should I go for maximum encryption vpn…. like air vpn?
    Also which is better airvpn or vps.s?

    Out of airvpn or vps.s…..bufferd or expressvpn ( which are for public wifi)….
    … which is the best for me?

    Your pointers are immensely appreciated.

    Hearty thanks !!

    1. Hi Abraham,

      Any VPN service will work with your setup. AirVPN is very secure and IMO is better than VPN.S, but is very techy. If you prefer a more user-friendly service, then ExpressVPN or Buffered are both good options.

  2. Editorial note for you…. when you say (non-SSL .i.e. their address starts with http:// rather than shttp://), I believe you mean https rather than shttp.

    Other than that minor nit, keep up the great work and great newsletter. I enjoy receiving them.

  3. I assume you’re talking about packet sniffers? Packet “snooper” is a new term for me, and very rare on the Internet when I do a quick search. I have to put the term in italics to get any links from Google, but at the same time am prompted “did you mean ‘packet sniffer’?”

    1. Hi Stephen,

      You are correct – I should have said packet sniffer – weevels must have got into my head that day!

  4. vyprVPN ranks in the top two for most elements, including use in China (of utmost importance to me), but not in this ranking. Does this mean that it’s not as secure as the others when using through public WiFi?

    1. Hi Ian,

      VyprVPN is secure for using over WiFi. Our top rankings change somewhat as the market changes, and this article is a little old…

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