The Philippines are known for their beautiful scenery and natural beauty. There is simply so much to do in the country. One can swim and sunbathe on the lovely white sands of Nacpan Beach El Nido on the island of Palawan or hike and swim at the clear waters of Kawasan Falls in Cebu. One element, however, holds true. It is impossible not to want to take a quick photo and show off your exotic trip to the beautiful country on Instagram or Facebook.
Thankfully, the Philippines understands this need for an internet connection from its travellers (and if we were being honest, it’s the same for the locals), there is internet everywhere in the country. In recent years, this has grown even more with free WiFi provided by the government. Yet, this also lies in the heart of the issue for us here today – why a VPN for the Philippines is essential for the best experience.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an encrypted tunnel connecting two devices. This not only hides the metadata (information such as your IP address and connection time) from your Internet Service Provider, you can even access VPN servers from your home country (or elsewhere) and give yourself a different IP address. So, why is this so important when travelling to the Philippines? Find out with us below!
Free WiFi comes with privacy risks
Internet use is dominant in the Philippines, with almost 60 million Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin users combined. Add in the 9 plus hours per day the typical Filipino spends online, this is simply a huge demographic. Hence, the Department of Science and Technology in Manila has taken steps to provide free internet for 99% of the country as early as 2016.
Unfortunately, there are extensive terms and conditions that are needed to access this free WiFi. Within the clauses of the terms and conditions you need to agree to use the network, you essentially also consent to the fact what you do on that WiFi network is not necessarily private. Your data will be collected and intercepted by the Internet Service Provider. And while they may not necessarily sell that information, is that really a chance you want to take? And if they do sell it, how would you find out?
… AND Security Risks
What if you don’t care about your privacy? You are not doing anything sketchy, so why does it matter if someone is watching you are doing? The reason is actually simple: while ISPs and government WiFi providers generally SHOULD be working have a vested interest to provide a private service and I guess are relatively trustworthy, the same is simply not true considering free WiFi is available to all.
By connecting to free public WiFi without a VPN, anyone can intercept the signal. With a tool that cost less than 100 USD, they can break through the supposed security of a WiFi router and read all the information you send. Think your banking information is private? Think again. Your Facebook and Instagram password? A hacker has that too.
How can I protect myself?
By encrypting your traffic, a VPN is one of the best ways to ensure your internet use in the Philippines is secure. All you have to do is to connect to a VPN provider with servers in the Philippines such as ExpressVPN. Their VPN service is proven to be among the best secure and private as well as one of the fastest.
An alternative is bringing your own portable WiFi connection. However, this may need to connectivity issues considering the Philippines is essentially made of a thousand islands. Still, this does typically work quite well for those staying within major urban centres.