Without encryption in a public wifi network, your data will become as available as public tv.
How easy is it to steal data in a public wifi hotspot?
Very easy. In fact, you can download the software and use it yourself. Please visit FaceNiff, Firesheep, Ethereal and Wireshark to begin eavesdropping. Please keep in mind, eavesdropping and data snooping may be highly illegal in your jurisdiction. However, criminals do not care. In fact, most of them will never be caught since it is very hard to prove a crime was committed.
How do I secure my internet connection in a public wifi hotspot?
In a public wifi hotspot, you can secure your wireless internet connection using VPN service or ssh tunnel or other proxy programs to create several security layers which will prevent access to your data from those who are locally at the hotspot as well as other criminals scattered across the internet. This is an end all and absolutely necessary solution to secure public wifi. In technical terms, Private Internet Access deploys state of the art OpenVPN SSL based encryption layers over all the tunneled connections. There will never be an unencrypted moment. Additionally, this website has been encrypted since is inception. As long as your data connection is encrypted, even if they can access your data at a public wifi hotspot, they will not be able to decipher the data. It will look like cryptographic gibberish.
Who should secure their connection?
If you engage in any of the following, you should certainly consider adding strong public wifi security encryption layers to protect your privacy and your data:
Check your e-mail in a public wifi hotspot
Login to social networking websites in a public wifi hotspot
Login to bank accounts in a public wifi hotspot
Share sensitive data online while in a public wifi hotspot
Wish to secure your connection from prying eyes in a public wifi hotspot
Use the internet at a library.
Use the internet at a cafe, bookstore or hotel.
Use the internet at an airport.
...then you absolutely should consider public wifi security.