A recent client from Vero Beach, was a district representative for a snack foods company. He was required to travel to end users in remote locations and was using his laptop to send sales orders back to his home office. His company had set up a back-end within their public website in which he could access for contacts, invoicing and accounting.
He would simply use the wi-fi connection at his customers businesses to transfer the data. He had never had a problem, and was as productive a salesperson, earning great commissions. He never worried about his internet privacy while browsing.
Then it happened .. He connect to a familiar network, but in reality it was a completely different network. He connected to a “wifi spoofing” hacker, who was probably seated near by with his innocent looking smartphone. The hacker had created a wifi hotspot with his device, and gave it the same name (SSID) as the establishment’s wifi connection. His signal was stronger than theirs due to the location of the one and only access point in the building, so my clients device connected as usual. The hacker sifted out the login and password to my clients business account, which gave him access to sensitive data of my client, and his customers too.
A virtual private network or other tunneling encryption capabilities would have protected his data even though a man in the middle was able to access his data packets being sent. All the hacker would receive is a payload of encryption language, totally useless to his motives. VPNs can keep your connection private and your identity anonymous.
To read more on VPNs here is a must read article