How to Protect Your Personal Data in Public Areas for Free

You are sitting in a public area. Your goal is to protect personal data during exchanges between your laptop/smartphone and remote websites.  One way to achieve this by using a private data connection, but it costs money.

Imagine having free and unlimited private data connections.

Here’s how to do it.

 

Using a private connection will protect you against snooping, theft of credentials and personal information in public areas such as:

  • Hotel Rooms
  • Lobby
  • Wi-Fi Hotspots
  • Airports
  • And many more

 

Public WiFi networks are not private by default. Many of them will forward your data in clear text. Don’t rely on them. Make sure you use a private connection instead.

 

How to Protect Your Personal Data

You can protect your personal data with a private connection. It will encrypt your contents. To achieve this, you use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN enables you to create a private connection (or tunnel) between your computing device and an endpoint, usually a VPN server.

To create a VPN connection, you need specialized software that runs on your laptop / tablet / smartphone. Several third party vendors offer such software. However, you need to buy a monthly subscription to use it.

But wait, a free choice is available for you: Opera VPN.

With Opera VPN, you will get Free Unlimited Access.

 

How to Enjoy Opera Private Connections

There are two ways you can create private connections using Opera products:

  • On your laptop (Windows / Mac / Linux)
  • On your smartphone / Tablet

 

Let’s first cover the laptop solution. Then we will move on to the mobile devices.

 

Opera for Desktop

Opera is a well-known web browser. It now has a built-in VPN service.

Once you install Opera on your laptop, you can surf privately with the Opera browser. All your Opera browser session data is encrypted before transmission. This is depicted in the next diagram.

 

protect your personal data

 

Important: With Opera browser VPN service, a private connection (VPN) is established between your Opera browser and a VPN server owned by Opera. The rest of your device communication does not follow this path and is not private. For instance, surfing with other apps (e.g., email clients, chats, other browsers) won’t be encrypted to Opera’s VPN server.

 

Opera Browser Setup Instructions

Here is how you can set up your Opera browser for private connections.

  1. Download and install Opera
  2. Choose the Preferences pane
    1. Mac OS: Command + ,
    2. Windows: Menu > Settings
  3. Choose Privacy and Security
  4. Check the VPN box

 

protect your personal data

 

A small blue VPN icon will display in front of Opera’s address bar. This confirms that your connection is private between your Opera browser and the Opera VPN server on the Internet.

If you click on the blue VPN icon, the following info will display. Please refer to the next figure:

  • An On/Off button – you can enable or disable the VPN. If set to Off, the VPN icon will turn Grey.
  • Your monthly data transfer stats
  • Virtual location: set to optimal depending on your geo location
  • Your VPN IP Address

 

The Virtual location represents the Opera VPN server you are connected to. Your Opera browser will pick the optimal location based on your physical location. You can select a different Opera VPN server by clicking on the Optimal location pull-down. By doing this, your IP address will change too. In the example below, I selected United States.

 

protect your personal data

 

Opera has VPN servers in five countries:

  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Singapore
  • United States

 

How about Mobile?

As of this writing, Opera VPN is only available on iOS devices (Apple iPhone et al.)

For iOS, the concept is different.

Opera VPN is an app you install on your smartphone/tablet. You don’t need the Opera browser.

With this app, the whole device communications are private. That means you can use any browser, your favorite email client, etc. The next diagram depicts the concept.

 

protect your personal data

 

iOS Setup Instructions

Here is how to set up Opera VPN on your iOS device.

  1. Download and install Opera VPN from the Apple Store
  2. Click on the App icon – a Viking helmet

 

Please refer to the next figure for the next discussion.

If you get a notification that Opera VPN is turned OFF, click the green Turn On button.

Once the VPN is ON, a small VPN icon will display on the top left of your iDevice.

When you choose the Settings tab, you will see three toggle buttons:

  • Enable Opera VPN – you can disable your VPN when not needed
  • Block Ads – stop getting annoyed by ads
  • Block Trackers – block ad-tracking cookies

 

protect your personal data

 

Let’s move on to the next figure. From the Stats tab, you can look at your stats such as the number of blocked Ads and blocked trackers.

Clicking the lightning bolt icon (top right) takes you to the region settings. By default, Opera VPN picks the closest region VPN server. But you can change this setting by selecting the desired location.

 

protect your personal data

 

Based on the selected region, your IP address will change.

 

Final Word

Here you go. You now have a free and unlimited VPN solution. Use it during your travels, in public areas or anywhere you need private connections. For more information about Opera VPN software, please see this article.

Which solution do you like the most for a secure and private connection? I would be glad to hear from you and get your feedback.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your social networks.

Related articles:

  • Do You Need an Excellent Password Manager? Dashlane Free

 

 

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Quick Note – Tools I used to illustrate this post:

 

You may also want to refer to my image creation tutorial.

 

Related articles:

 

2 thoughts on “How to Protect Your Personal Data in Public Areas for Free”

  1. Hey,

    Nice review and tips. I never used a public wifi but whenever I will use then I will keep these tips in mind for sure.

    I was looking for some VPN apps yesterday and Opera VPN was among the top but I downloaded TurboVPN instead, would be giving a try to Opera VPN also. Seems safe and promising.

    Cheers,
    Karan

    • Hi Karan,

      Thanks for stopping by. TurboVPN specs look fine. The only drawback about Opera VPN is their desktop version, where it only encrypts between the browser and the destination. Everything outside the browser (e.g., email, other browsers, etc.) are not encrypted within the VPN. However, their smartphone app encrypts at the device level, which is good.

      Regards,
      -steve

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