How To Use A Smartphone As A Mobile Hotspot
If you don't use your phone as a WiFi Hotspot, you are missing out on a really neat trick.
Using your smartphone as a WiFi hotspot gives you a personal, dedicated internet connection wherever you are. This can be extremely useful when you are on the road, or simply when there are no available WiFi networks around.
Best of all, though, using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot is actually more secure than most public WiFi networks.
This is particularly true if you encrypt the data that your phone sends and receives. That might sound complicated, but it is not: by using a quality VPN like PureVPN, you can protect your data from being read by anyone else, and maintain your privacy online.
What is a Phone WiFi Hotspot?
Setting up a WiFi hotspot essentially turns your phone into a WiFi router.
Once you've set up your phone in this way, you can connect to it as though it is a standard router. You can connect all of your devices in the usual way, and your phone will pass on its data connection to them.
This means you can connect to the internet anywhere that your smartphone has a data signal: in a coffee shop, in a colleague's office, or even on a mountain.
How Does A Phone WiFi Hotspot Work?
The technical details of how a smartphone WiFi hotspot works are actually pretty simple. Once you've configured your phone to act as a hotspot, it treats its data connection as if it were a broadband data source.
The phone then transmits data to your devices using the 802.11ac protocol. This is the same protocol used by most WiFi routers, and so your devices treat your phone as though it is a standard WiFi router. That's because it is.
All of this, however, comes at a cost. The battery life on your phone is likely to drop if you are using it as a router because it uses energy to communicate with other devices.
Also, you should pay careful attention to the amount of data you are using. Your laptop and tablet will stream data as though they are on a standard WiFi network, and so streaming high-quality video can use up your data allowance pretty quick.
If you are going to be using your phone as a WiFi hotspot frequently, you should also take a moment to improve your mobile security by also installing a VPN on your smartphone. PureVPN, for instance, provides a dedicated app for using your VPN on your phone, meaning you can have the same level of security while on the road as you do at home.
Using a VPN that will not only make your data more secure, though: it will also keep you anonymous online, and make sure that your private data stays private.
How Secure is a Phone WiFi Hotspot?
On the other hand, there are some pretty compelling reasons for using your phone as a WiFi network, even where other WiFi networks are available.
That's because the data connection your phone uses is more secure than most public WiFi networks. In part, that's because most WiFi networks, such as those in coffee shops, hotels, and airports, are vulnerable when it comes to security. Often they don't even use secure WiFi security protocols, and so are easy to hack.
Your phone, on the other hand, has an LTE data connection that is (typically) encrypted using the Snow Stream cipher. This makes browsing the web through your phone as secure as making a phone call or using your phone to browse directly.
The connection between your phone and your devices is also pretty secure. Most smartphones today use WPA2 encryption, which provides a reasonable level of protection against people trying to listen in to your connection.
Your WiFi hotspot can also be made even more secure. Most phones now come with a range of options for improving Hotspot security, and if configured correctly these make your connection private and secure.
The ultimate level of security is to also use a VPN. A good VPN like PureVPN will encrypt all of your data using AES 256-bit encryption protocol. A portable hotspot, coupled with this level of encryption, is arguably the most secure data connection you can have.
How Do I Setup a Phone WiFi Hotspot?
The process of setting up a WiFi hotspot on your phone varies depending on the manufacturer but is easy enough on the majority of phones.
I've put together some guides for you below.
Just make sure that, when prompted, you set up a password for your new network, and that you choose a strong password. If you don't, anyone will be able to connect to your hotspot and see what you are doing online.
For an iPhone:
Let's begin on the Home screen.
First, tap the Settings icon.
Then you should see a 'Personal Hotspot' section. Open that.
Tap the switch to turn on your hotspot.
At the beginning, your network name will be the same as the name of your phone. You should change that.
To change it, go to Settings > General > About > Name.
Tap Wi-Fi Password to change your password.
From the Home screen, swipe up or down to bring your apps,
Then open Settings.
From here, it will depend which phone you have, but on my Samsung I tap Connections.
Next, scroll down and hit 'Mobile Hotspot and Tethering'
You can enable Mobile Hotspot on this screen.
You can change your password and the name of your network by tapping Password, and by tapping the current network name.
Once you've set up the hotspot, you should be able to connect your devices in the same way you connect to a standard WiFi network. Just look in your connections menu, and you should see your new network.
After this, you can also install a VPN on your phone, in order to provide yet another level of security, and make sure that absolutely no-one is able to see what you are doing or track you around the web.
Click connect, enter your password, and start browsing!
Stay Secure Everywhere
Most people use their smartphone as a WiFi hotspot when there are no other WiFi networks available. If you need to do some work on the road, this functionality is invaluable.
As I've explained above, though, there are actually some good reasons for using this function even where there are public WiFi networks. Public WiFi networks are generally insecure when it comes to security, for a start.
So here's my advice.
Get a good VPN like PureVPN, and install a VPN app on both your phone and your devices. Then you can set up your phone to provide a secure, private internet connection wherever you are. This will limit your exposure to cyber attacks, keep you safe from most forms of tracking, and let you browse securely anywhere in the world.