Free public Wi-Fi stats from American ITRC (Identity Theft Resource Center) show that 78.5% of people who connect to publically available Internet networks believe that using public Wi-Fi can lead to identity theft. Yet only 26.7% percent use VPN, the most reliable tool for personal online protection that encrypts all traffic between Internet and device into a secure tunnel.
Research shows that Wi-Fi user fears aren’t unfounded, since public Wi-Fi can be hacked into very easily. Hackers often position themselves as Wi-Fi hotspots and easily steal personal information of each individual that logs in. In addition, identity thieves have lately been using wireless sniffers, a software designed to intercept and decode data when it is transmitted over a network.
Anyone who is shopping online or doing online banking by using a wireless network is especially vulnerable to hacking attacks that can steal one’s credit card data or identity. There’s no lack of locations with free Wi-Fi hotspots that can pose danger. The most popular ones include coffee shops and restaurants, followed by hotels, airports, libraries and schools.
What are the security tools that are most often used by people who connect to wireless networks?
VPNs. VPNs are a preferred tool for more than half of respondents (58.4%) who said they use security tools when accessing free Wi-Fi.  A professional VPN service encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a device and helps hide an IP address. If you are a beginner, itąs best to choose a VPN that’s user friendly.
HTTPs. 53.1% of security-minded respondents mentioned that they only use websites that have https URL. Using https sites is especially important if you are entering your personal data somewhere online.
Firewall. 44.7% of those who care about personal privacy said they were using a firewall when going online in public places. Most operational systems have a built-in firewall these days, which keeps outsiders from going through your computer’s data.

Antivirus. 35.5% of security-concerned respondents said they were using an anti-virus program when connecting to public Wi-Fi. Anti-virus is highly recommended to use at all times to protect your network from malware. However, using only anti-virus is not enough in order to keep your system secure. A hacker can see if a malware can be detected by anti-virus when it is run on your computer ­ and if it is, the hacker can easily modify its code and try again.