Before we look at anything, lets first understand what a public Wi-Fi is.
What is Public Wi-Fi?
The WI-FI could be the one of the best things that ever happened in the world of technology. It is a convenient technology that enables many devices to connect to the internet wirelessly. It is configured using a wireless adapter to create a “hotspot.” Users who are within the range of the hotspot can then connect to the internet and carry on online activities.
There are wireless networks at home which are commonly known as “closed networks” and many in public places. Often times public Wi-Fi is never safe and poses security risks to user. They are usually found within Airports, Bars, Restaurants, shopping centers and even homes when the networks are left unsecured.
Why Are Public Wi-Fi Networks Insecure?
An unsecured Wi-Fi network is any network that does not require you to enter a password or login credentials to use the network. These "open" networks also involve un-encrypted connections, leaving users at great risk. These hotspots are an easy target for hackers and nefarious people trying to steal login passwords, credit card information and content of communications or other personal details. Here is why you shouldn’t always use them.
1. A target for Hackers
Hackers and snoops love infiltrating unsecured Wi-Fi networks and use them to collect personal details or any sensitive login data. Hacking has become easier and easier and with tools like packet analyzers, hacking has become a piece of cake for anyone even with average technology knowledge.
2. Prone To Man-in-middle attacks.
Such attacks occur when an evil actor intercepts communication between two people and inserts themselves into the conversation. The criminal can then read the information passed back and forth without the two people knowing. Such attacks enable eavesdropping and using the information gathered from the conversation to steal personal information.
3. Malware infiltration
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks are often times used to spread malware on the unsuspecting Wi-Fi users’ phones. The malware then gives the criminal access to everything in your device, such as files, photos and some have gone to the extent of microphone activation for eavesdropping.
4. Victim to Rogue Hotspots
There have been criminals who have deliberately set up hotspots using a name that is close to that of a legitimate Wi-Fi hotspot just to lure unsuspecting users. The hotspots trick users into connecting and thinking that they are using a real network for a restaurant for example. As soon as the unsuspecting user connects, the snooping is then smoothly done by the criminal.
What Personal Information is at risk?
Public Wi-Fi networks are an easy target for criminal who are intent on getting your personal details. Information such as your locations, websites you visit, personal communications, people you are communicating with, the files you send, all your passwords and even your financial information if you make payments through your mobile device.
However people seem not to realize the dangers of using public Wi-Fi. Very few users actually take steps to ensure that they have a secure connection. They do activities such as logging in their private emails, accessing banking and financial information and using social media. They don’t realize how vulnerable their sensitive data is through these networks. Many of them still love the idea of using free unsecured Wi-Fi.
How To Protect Yourself When on Public Wi-Fi Network
You are now probably thinking the number of times you have logged into a public network without thinking of any risks. The good news is that you don’t have to completely avoid Wi-Fi networks because there are ways to protect yourself.
• The VPN
There is one that actually works perfectly and that is using a VPN. A VPN encrypts your internet connection to secure it and offer protection for your privacy. When connecting with a VPN there is no Internet Provider or malicious hacker will get access to any information you send over the network. Your privacy will be intact at all times.
Apart from VPN, you can take other precautions such as not being too quick to connect. You could also turn off sharing settings, to prevent others on the network from accessing your information. You can also use a firewall and always use the HTTPS for all the websites that you visit.
Lastly always use a 2-factor authentication for all the login credentials on accounts and then turn off the Wi-Fi on your device when you are not using it. Remember to update settings and forget networks to prevent them from being saved on your phone.
Be safe on public networks do not give hackers and evil criminals a chance to use personal information against you. Take protective measures to ensure your security because often times network security is in your own hands.
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