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How to protect your online privacy, security with VPN while using hotspot

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How to protect your online privacy, security with VPN while using hotspot

Having a stable internet connection is vital in today’s always-online world. One way to stay connected while on the go is with a hotspot, which uses your cellphone’s cellular network to create its own Wi-Fi network that other devices can connect to.

However, hotspots aren’t the safest way to go online, and they suffer from the same risks that any public Wi-Fi connection does, such as data breaches or misuse by hackers and other nefarious actors.

Although there is an easy way to keep yourself protected when using a hotspot, though, and that’s by using a virtual private network or VPN. It adds an extra layer of security and can keep you safe online. If you do decide to create and use a personal hotspot, remember to always make sure it’s password-protected.

Now, we’ll take you through the benefits of using a VPN with a hotspot and show you step by step how to set up a VPN. 

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Woman on a tablet using VPN (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

What is a hotspot?

A hotspot refers to a physical location where wireless internet access is available, typically using Wi-Fi technology. It could be a public location like a cafe, airport, hotel or library that offers internet access to its customers or visitors.

Additionally, you can create personal hotspots using your smartphone or other devices, allowing you to share your cellular data connection with nearby devices, such as laptops or tablets, via Wi-Fi. This enables these devices to connect to the internet even when they’re outside the range of a traditional Wi-Fi network.

Hotspots are useful for providing internet connectivity on the go and are commonly used in situations where accessing Wi-Fi networks or wired connections is not possible or convenient.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network, or VPN, is a technology that creates a secure and encrypted connection between a device, typically a smartphone or laptop and another network over the internet. Here’s how they work.

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Encryption

When you use a VPN, all your internet traffic will be encrypted. This means that all data sent and received will be scrambled and protected from any prying eyes.

Routing

All traffic sent through a VPN is routed through a server that is operated by the VPN provider. This server acts as a middleman between your device and all of the websites or online services you access.

Disguising your Identity

By connecting to a VPN server, all of your internet activity will appear to originate from the VPN provider’s server location. For example, if the VPN provider hosts their server in a different country, your traffic will appear in that country, even if you are connecting to the VPN from the United States. This can help you bypass certain geolocation restrictions on websites to access content that might otherwise be unavailable in a specific region.

Privacy on Public Wi-Fi

When connected to a public Wi-Fi network, which is always risky, a VPN will shield your browsing activity from potential hackers and snoopers. Here are some mistakes to avoid if you have to use public Wi-Fi.

How to protect your online privacy, security with VPN while using hotspot

Person on a laptop using a VPN (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: BEST WI-FI RANGE EXTENDERS

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Choosing a VPN provider

Using a VPN with a mobile hotspot is a great way to keep yourself protected, as we’ve shown above. Fortunately, these days, there is a wide range of VPN providers. See my expert review of the best VPNs for browsing the web privately on your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.

Luckily for users, setting up a VPN isn’t difficult at all. Once you’ve picked your provider, here’s what you will want to do next.

Install the VPN application

Once you’ve selected a VPN, you’ll want to install the application on your device. Always make sure you are downloading directly from the developer or a trusted intermediary such as the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. 

Create an account

After you’ve installed your VPN application and opened it for the first time, it’s time to create your account. The majority of VPN services will require you to create a username and password with an email address.

Select server location

Now that you have an account, you can begin using your new VPN. The first step in any VPN application is to select your server location. While there are advantages to picking a location further away, such as bypassing geo-location locks on specific content, it’s best to pick a server location that’s close to you. This will allow you to experience the optimal speed while browsing securely with a VPN.

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How to protect your online privacy, security with VPN while using hotspot

Laptop with Google search displayed (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Test the connection

After the initial application, you can launch your VPN application anytime you want to create a secure network. However, it’s important to note that if you want to use your phone to create a mobile hotspot, and you want to access the internet from that hotspot on your laptop, you will need to have the VPN installed and operating on both devices. This is because security protocols of both iOS and Android do not allow multiple devices to share the same VPN IP address. 

This process is simpler than it may sound, simply install whichever VPN service you prefer on both devices, log into your account and select the same VPN server location for a faster and more stable connection on both devices. After that, you just need to make sure the connection is working. Once you have a VPN actively running on any mobile device, it will encrypt the data between the network and you, you just need to simply open a browser and make sure you have an internet connection.

If you are able to access the website, then congratulations! You now have a VPN protecting your mobile hotspot data. 

MORE: HOW TO STOP SOMEONE FROM TRACK YOU ON YOUR PHONE

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Kurt’s key takeaways

A VPN is a great way to keep yourself protected while browsing the internet on a hotspot. We’ve shown you how easy it is to set up a VPN with a mobile hotspot, and we recommend using a VPN anytime you are using a public network. There’s a wide range of VPN providers out there these days, so it’s a good idea to always do a bit of research beforehand. You’ll want to pay close attention to pricing, services offered and trusted reviews of any VPN service you plan on downloading.

Have you ever experienced any security issues or concerns while using public Wi-Fi networks, and if so, how do you think using a VPN could mitigate those risks? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

Ask Kurt a question or let us know what stories you’d like us to cover.

Answers to the most asked CyberGuy questions:

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Microsoft is working with Nvidia, AMD, and Intel to improve upscaling support in PC games

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Microsoft is working with Nvidia, AMD, and Intel to improve upscaling support in PC games

Microsoft has outlined a new Windows API designed to offer a seamless way for game developers to integrate super resolution AI-upscaling features from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel. In a new blog post, program manager Joshua Tucker describes Microsoft’s new DirectSR API as the “missing link” between games and super resolution technologies, and says it should provide “a smoother, more efficient experience that scales across hardware.”

“This API enables multi-vendor SR [super resolution] through a common set of inputs and outputs, allowing a single code path to activate a variety of solutions including Nvidia DLSS Super Resolution, AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution, and Intel XeSS,” the post reads. The pitch seems to be that developers will be able to support this DirectSR API, rather than having to write code for each and every upscaling technology.

The blog post comes a couple of weeks after an “Automatic Super Resolution” feature was spotted in a test version of Windows 11, which promised to “use AI to make supported games play more smoothly with enhanced details.” Now, it seems the feature will plug into existing super resolution technologies like DLSS, FSR, and XeSS rather than offering a Windows-level alternative. 

Microsoft says that the new API will be available soon via a preview version of its Agility SDK. It plans to offer a “sneak peek” of how DirectSR can be used during a developer session at the forthcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC). The session will take place on March 21st, and will include representatives from both Microsoft as well as Nvidia and AMD.

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Apple warns against using rice to dry out your wet iPhone; here’s what to do instead

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Apple warns against using rice to dry out your wet iPhone; here’s what to do instead

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Cellphones getting water damage is nothing new. Before the iPhone, I had a flip phone that fell into a swimming pool. The first thing everyone told me to do was to dry the phone out with rice.

The idea is that the rice will draw out any excess water, saving your phone from being destroyed by water damage.

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This method remains many people’s tried-and-true method for saving a waterlogged phone, and I’ve seen it work firsthand. 

However, a new support document by Apple has just come out, and the company is asking people to please not place their iPhones in a bowl or bag of rice.

CLICK TO GET KURT’S FREE CYBERGUY NEWSLETTER WITH SECURITY ALERTS, QUICK VIDEO TIPS, TECH REVIEWS AND EASY HOW-TO’S TO MAKE YOU SMARTER

An iPhone in a bowl of rice (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Why shouldn’t you put your wet iPhone in rice?

Apple is now warning customers that placing their iPhones into a bowl or bag of rice might actually slow down the drying process and damage their phone’s internal components. In particular, the company warns that small particles of wet rice may end up in your iPhone, damaging the phone’s logic board.

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iPhone rice trick 2

Wet iPhone (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

What Apple recommends you do instead

Next time your iPhone takes a dip in the swimming pool or the toilet, instead of running for the rice in the cabinet, Apple suggests doing this instead.

Step 1 – Tap the water out

Apple suggests that your first immediate step should be lightly tapping the iPhone against your hand with the charging connector pointed down. This should pull some of the water inside your iPhone out. Don’t be alarmed if only a few drops of water come from the connector port. Leave your iPhone somewhere dry, with some airflow.

iPhone rice trick 3

Image of an iPhone and power cord (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: BEST ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR PHONE

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Step 2 – Wait 30 minutes, then try to charge your iPhone

You should leave your iPhone alone for a period of 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes have gone by, you can attempt to charge your iPhone again. If your iPhone charges, congratulations. There’s no water damage to your iPhone and you can resume using it. If you receive an alert saying “liquid detected in USB-C (or lightning) port,” you unfortunately still have water in your iPhone. However, luckily, hope isn’t lost.

MORE: 5 BEST PORTABLE PHONE CHARGERS OF 2024

iPhone rice trick 4

Liquid Detected alert on iPhone (Apple)

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Step 3 – Leave your iPhone in a dry area for 24 hours

If you receive an alert saying “liquid detected in USB-C (or lightning) port,” you unfortunately still have water in your iPhone. Apple warns against using a blow-dryer or any other heat gun device to dry your iPhone after it takes a splash. You should instead leave your phone in a dry area with some airflow and allow for 24 hours to pass. A room with a ceiling fan is a great place to leave your iPhone while it dries.

iPhone rice trick 5

Charging Not Available alert on iPhone (Apple)

Step 4 – Retest the connector

After 24 hours have passed, you should try to charge your iPhone again. If your iPhone charges, you are all good. If it doesn’t charge, Apple recommends removing the charging cable from the wall outlet and changing electrical sources for a moment. Apple recommends against trying to insert a cotton swab or any other foreign object into your charging port.

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If your iPhone’s charging port is damaged or not working properly, you may want to consider alternative charging methods that do not rely on the port. For example, some iPhones support wireless charging, which uses a magnetic pad or stand to charge your phone without plugging in a cable. This way, you can avoid inserting anything into the port and prevent further damage. 

Now, if all that doesn’t work and your iPhone still does not charge or shows signs of water damage, such as a wet screen, distorted audio or malfunctioning buttons, you may need to contact Apple for repair or replacement. You can check your warranty status and common issues not covered under warranty by clicking here.

Remember to back up your data before sending your iPhone for repair, as you may lose some or all of your information.

MORE: HOW TO PROTECT AN IPHONE & IPAD FROM MALWARE 2024

Kurt’s key takeaways

It’s important to remember that all iPhones since the iPhone 12 are able to safely withstand submersion in water of up to 20 feet for 30 minutes. If you do end up dropping your iPhone in the water, just don’t run for the rice.

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Do you think Apple should make their iPhones more water-resistant or waterproof? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

Ask Kurt a question or let us know what stories you’d like us to cover.

Answers to the most asked CyberGuy questions:

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X adds live video to Spaces instead of bringing back Periscope

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X adds live video to Spaces instead of bringing back Periscope

Spaces, the live audio feature for X, is now letting hosts turn on their video during chat sessions. The platform formerly known as Twitter announced the news on Wednesday as owner / CTO Elon Musk reposted a walkthrough from a user named “Dogedesigner.”

Spaces users will notice a new option to “enable video” when they first create a new Spaces session. Hosts can opt for either their phone’s front or back-facing cameras as well as either a landscape or vertical view of their video feed. 

The Video Spaces are available on the iOS version of the X app, but we haven’t seen them available on Android or the web yet. Multiple users reported significant lag while trying out the feature so far.

Right now, only hosts have the ability to turn on video. The end result is a prominent display of the host’s video feed, which is then surrounded by icons of co-hosts, speakers, and any listeners. At first glance, it’s an environment that resembles Twitch — expect for the fact that any selected audience members can chime in at any minute. A host’s video feed also only lives inside a Spaces session, so users will have to join the session in order to tune in.

When Elon Musk announced that Spaces would get video late last year, his description of it sounded closer to a videoconferencing app or video call app like FaceTime, where the video feed switches to whoever is currently speaking. 

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But for now, a typical Spaces with video session prominently features the host’s video feed, which is surrounded by the smaller icons of any other speakers, co-hosts, or listeners in the room. It’s not exactly like Twitch since anyone you give permission to can speak back to you, but it does turn the host into the main event in a similar fashion. 

The new video integration of X Spaces is separate from the platform’s existing live broadcast feature, which lets users directly livestream video. Spaces functions as a live chatroom, where multiple users can tune in and speak. In contrast, the audience in a typical live broadcast can only comment or send hearts

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