Can anyone explain VPN when it comes to connecting a phone to public wifi?

I will be traveling soon, and I read that using something like ExpressVPN makes it safer when connecting to public wifi.  But I am confused about how it works because I read that you are actually connecting to one of the ExpressVPN servers.  Is VPN server like a bridge between my phone and the public wifi?  I am still going to be using the same public wifi, correct?  And the VPN server is just an extra layer of protection?  Any clarification is much appreciated!

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  • 2 months ago
    Best answer

    the wifi works the same way it did before having the vpn. Adding the vpn means the data goes VIA a chosen VPN server, thus looking at YOU from the internet direction all THEY see is your VPN IP address. so this is very helpful for example if you want to play games from ANYWHERE as it fixes your IP as the VPN one. The VPN connection is ENCRYPTED from YOUR DEVICE to the VPN server which means any LISTENER that is NEAR to your device does not see PLAIN READABLE DATA and if the know the WiFi encryption KEY they still just see your ENCRYPTED VPN data so they would have to decrypt what they see TWICE. The encryption used by a public wifi may be low quality(easily decrypted) but the VPN encryption could be a lot more tricky to decrypt. However the same rules apply and that is dont use Banking apps over public wifi connections or any other private stuff.

  • Smokie
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    VPN is like an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server.

  • L
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Generally, when using a Virtual Private Network, the end-device - in this case, your phone - has a VPN client. This client secures the connection from your phone to the VPN service provider. From your description, this means from your phone, over wifi, over the internet, to the VPN service provider.

    In my case, I have a client on my device (computer, tablet, smartphone) that encrypts the data packets over wifi or Ethernet LAN to my employer. This is what lets me work securely from home - as far as any servers I hit coming from my employer's location (in the middle of the country), I am at my employer's office even though I'm on the left coast. My employer becomes the VPN provider and they log all my traffic. In your case, it sounds like you want to secure your communications with a "public" VPN provider. That's OK if you know the company, but what happens when they capture your data packets and sell it to whomever for whatever reason? Not all VPNs are the same. Think about it for a moment - if you are looking into "free" VPN services. Explain to us how the internet connection, routers, network switches, servers that store your authentication information, office space, electricity, environmentals for the data center where all this stuff and people are located... gets profitably funded. If you aren't paying for the VPN with $, then you're data is likely being sold. Check the End User Service Level Agreement. How do you think Google makes all its money? Certainly not from giving stuff away for free... Tracking your activities online creates HUGE amounts of data for lots of folks - including retailers, political campaigns (legit and not-so-legit), insurers, and many others.

    A VPN does not replace wifi, but encapsulates data packets in secure "envelopes" that flow through a virtual tunnel to the destination where the secure envelope is opened/decrypted and the data is read by the recipient router/server/other device. In addition to normal internet delay, additional delay is added because it takes time to encrypt and decrypt the secured packets.

  • Lv 7
    2 months ago

    VPN is widely misunderstood. it is touted and advertised as a way to stay safe and anonymous. but in actuality, it is far different from what it claims.

    VPN was created as a way to connect your computer (or in this case, phone) to a remote network, and have it act as though it is right there. this is ideal for businesses who want to allow employees to work from home, but still have access to all the files and resources at work.

    so basically, it connects your device to somebody else"s network, so when you visit a website, that website sees the VPNs IP address, and not yours. also, the network you are connected to only sees you connected to the VPN, and not whatever site you have gone to.

    the trouble comes in that, you are connecting to a STRANGER'S network. you don't know Express VPN. do you know what they do to the data they collect from you as you are connected to their network?

    they could be trying to hack your phone data, which is much easier while you are on their network...

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  • 2 months ago

    VPN means Virtual Private Network, so when you use a VPN your connection to the other end of the Virtual Network is hidden from attackers through the use of encryption.

    So far so good, but there's a catch. Certainly, anyone logged on to the same local network cannot see your data, but if you are using a VPN service then your connection is only encrypted between your device and the EXIT point of your VPN service provider. In order to get end to end, you need to create a VPN between your device and your targets device, and not some service part way through your data path.

    So would I use a VPN? When I'm out and about I do, you just have to realise that using a VPN is not a cure-all!

  • Dave
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    VPN creates an encrypted stream from your device to a VPN server of your choosing. That way when you connect to any public connection (or private for that matter) the owner of the connection you are on cannot see anything you are doing.

  • 2 months ago

    Normally when you are on the Internet, any information you send is randomly broadcast to everything around you on the Internet. This is done because the Internet was originally designed so that if any part of it went down, the information would be send by anything and everything around it. This helped to assure that nothing could take the entire Internet down.

    But this reduces security because "anything and everything" can hear what you sent to the Internet.

    A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to first set a path between your PC and whoever you are wanting to talk to on the Internet. That path is locked in place, and anything you send will always follow that path and nothing else will be able to see what you send over the Internet.

    Now, the public Internet is not as "unsecure" as my first paragraph makes it sound. While "anything and everything" can see the packets of information you send over the Internet, the information is encoded so that only the destination it is intended for should be able to open the packet and read what is inside. But there are dozens of "hacker" programs that are able to intercept packets and open them. 99.9% of people would have no idea how to do this. So 99.9% of the time your information is safe. (It is the 0.1% that can be an issue.)

    Think of the difference like this. I could open my window and yell a neighbor three houses away. He can hear what I am saying and gets the message. But anyone else within three houses of us "could" listen in on the conversation. But if I pick up my phone and call him, I set up a direct line of communication between us. We can have the same conversation but no one else can hear it. (In fact, a landline is a form of VPN because he first sets up a direct connection between the two phones, then you talk, and when you hang up the connection is disconnected and no longer exist.)

    • L
      Lv 7
      2 months agoReport

      And: data packets are not "randomly broadcast to everything around you on the Internet". IP addresses (network router, ISP, server, printer, smatswitch, IP enabled security camera, etc.) are used to identify the target/destination device.

  • Greg
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Any WiFi network is easily hacked. Once the data is on copper or fiber it is much safer. VPN encrypts the data from your phone to the VPN server and so it is secure while it is on the WiFi.

  • 2 months ago

    Thanks - so basically with VPN I am still using the same public wifi, but just encrypted, right? I was confused because I thought the VPN server *replaces* public wifi.

    • Dave
      Lv 7
      2 months agoReport

      Correct. VPN does NOT replace the wifi. It just encrypts and secure the data passing THROUGH the wifi.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    its more like a tunnel since its encrypted. that way its harder for other people to see what your doing. it works really well against isps and most criminals youll find at a public wifi. but not so much against the nsa.

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