Public WiFi is the WiFi that is available in public places either provided by the government or the ISP for the better facility of people in public places. Public Wi-Fi can be bound in popular public places like airports, coffee shops, malls, restaurants, and hotels and it allows you to access the Internet for free. These “hotspots” are so widespread and common that people frequently connect to them without thinking twice. Although it sounds harmless to log on and check your social media account or browse some news articles, everyday activities that require a login like reading e-mail or checking your bank account could be risky business on public Wi-Fi.
What are the risks?
The problem with public Wi-Fi is that there are a tremendous number of risks that go along with these networks. While business owners may believe they’re providing a valuable service to their customers, chances are the security on these networks is lax or nonexistent.
One of the most common threats on these networks is called a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack. Essentially, a MitM attack is a form of eavesdropping. When a computer makes a connection to the Internet, data is sent from point A (computer) to point B (service/website), and vulnerabilities can allow an attacker to get in between these transmissions and “read” them. So what you thought was private no longer is.
Encryption means that the information that is sent between your computer and the wireless router is in the form of a “secret code,” so that it cannot be read by anyone who doesn’t have the key to decipher the code. Most routers are shipped from the factory with encryption turned off by default, and it must be turned on when the network is set up. If an IT professional sets up the network, then chances are good that encryption has been enabled. However, there is no surefire way to tell if this has happened.
Thanks to software vulnerabilities, there are also ways that attackers can slip malware onto your computer without you even knowing. A software vulnerability is a security hole or weakness found in an operating system or software program. Hackers can exploit this weakness by writing code to target a specific vulnerability, and then inject the malware onto your device.
Snooping and sniffing
Wi-Fi snooping and sniffing is what it sounds like. Cyber criminals can buy special software kits and even devices to help assist them with eavesdropping on Wi-Fi signals. This technique can allow the attackers to access everything that you are doing online from viewing whole webpages you have visited (including any information you may have filled out while visiting that webpage) to being able to capture your login credentials, and even hijack your accounts.
This “rogue access points” trick victims into connecting to what they think is a legitimate network because the name sounds reputable. Say you’re staying at the Goodnight Inn and want to connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi. You may think you’re selecting the correct one when you click on “GoodNyte Inn,” but you haven’t. Instead, you’ve just connected to a rogue hotspot set up by cybercriminals who can now view your sensitive information.
Endpoints were commonly a “device or node that is connected to the LAN or WAN and accepts communications back and forth across the network,” such as modem or switch.
More recently, “endpoint is used most commonly in network security and end-user mobility circles to mean any device outside the corporate firewall.” So, when you go outside of your firewall, hackers can build fake websites or landing pages, which allows them access to the entire network.
Free Wi-Fi isn’t secure
There are plenty of free WiFi networks yes, even at your favorite coffee shop that doesn’t use leading encryption technology.
The reason? It’s expensive to have a secure network. Even though there are good intentions, they are unwittingly putting their customers in harm’s way.
How to stay safe on public Wi-Fi
The best way to know your information is safe while using public Wi-Fi is to use a virtual private network (VPN), when surfing on your PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet. However, if you must use public Wi-Fi, follow these tips to protect your information.
• Allow your Wi-Fi to auto-connect to networks
• Log into any account via an app that contains sensitive information. Go to the website instead and verify it uses HTTPS before logging in
• Leave your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on if you are not using them
• Access websites that hold your sensitive information, such as financial or healthcare accounts
• Log onto a network that isn’t password protected
• Disable file sharing
• Only visit sites using HTTPS
• Log out of accounts when done using them
• Use a VPN, to make sure your public Wi-Fi connections are made private
The more you take your chances with a free network connection, the greater the likelihood that you will suffer some type of security breach. There is a saying in the cyber security industry that there are three types of people in the world: those who have been hacked, those who will be hacked, and those who are being hacked right now and just don’t know it yet. The better you protect yourself, the greater your chances of minimizing the potential damage. Remember: Falling victim to public Wi-Fi’s dangers is a question of when not if.
So we conclude that using public wifi is a high risk for your privacy. Here we have mentioned the do’s and don’t and how you can be secured while using the public wifi. So follow it for the privacy of your private matters.