When you use a wireless hotspot, Wi-Fi packet-sniffing software can enable nearby crooks to easily unearth your personal details. To be on the safe side, don’t log into any site that doesn’t display https:// in the address bar. If a site doesn’t have it, think very carefully about what personal information you may be about to send over the web.

Business users can protect themselves with a virtual private network (VPN) connection, which secures email communications to and from the office network. Plan ahead and you can do the same with your personal email. Install a free VPN tool such as Open VPN or Free VPN to tighten up security as you browse the web abroad.

Step 1. Install LogMeIn Hamachi2
We recommend the free LogMeIn Hamachi2 as a useful tool for using public Wi-Fi safely. It’s easy to set up and has its own VPN client. To get started, register at secure.logmein.com and download the software. On first launch you should press the ‘Power on’ button; this triggers a Create box to pop up onscreen, allowing you to register the Windows netbook or laptop on which you’ve installed the software.

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Step 2. LogMeIn Probe
Next, LogMeIn Hamachi2 will scout out a list of your networks and peers. Select either ‘Create a new network’ or ‘Join an existing network’. LogMeIn also provides limited security and encrypted peer connections, and can offer a status readout. To access further options, select the Advanced tab.

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Step 3. Select the LogMeIn target PC
The software is able to create a secure communication tunnel between your laptop (the client) and a second PC (the target), which will need to be online. Create a new network and add your details on the target PC. Next, when using public Wi-Fi, select the target PC and enter your login details. Rather than logging into a PC about which you know nothing, this provides a secure connection.

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Step 4. LogMeIn instant messaging
Once the VPN-encrypted tunnel has been set up between client and target PCs, you’re ready to begin surfing the web in safety. Other features offered by LogMeIn’s free software include the ability to remotely access another computer and make use of an instant messaging client that’s secured with 256bit encryption. Right-click on a computer in the Control Panel and scroll down to chat.

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