NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Wi-Fi is widely available these days, often for free.

We’ve gotten used to logging onto the internet easily from public places, but there’s a risk in doing so.

READ MORE: Rockets Beat Shorthanded Nets For 7th Straight Win

Most people don’t realize it, but when you’re getting free Wi-Fi, you may be giving away something else.

Think about all the times you’ve read emails in the coffee shop or done some online banking at the gym. Chances are, any data that was transmitted could also possibly be seen by others on the same unsecured network.

That’s why experts say you need to use a VPN, or virtual private network. It masks your IP, or internet protocol, address so your online activity is untraceable. It also uses encryption to scramble data, making it unreadable.

READ MORE: New York Weather: CBS2’s 12/9 Thursday Morning Forecast

A VPN can also help keep your searches private. With regular connections, your internet service provider knows your entire browsing history. With a VPN, your search history is hidden, because your web activity will be associated with the VPN server’s IP address, not yours.

When choosing a program, there are a few things to keep in mind. The company should have a no-log policy, which means they never track online activities.

Check data limits and make sure the services match your needs. If you have multiple devices, make sure you can use it on all of them.

Finally, experts say you should pay for your VPN. It’s not very expensive, and free VPN may not be as secure and lack customer support.

MORE NEWS: David Banks To Be Named New York City Schools Chancellor

Find more from “Eye on Cyber” by clicking here.