Free public wi-fi facilities are available in most places today including airports, coffee shops, hotels & restaurants, libraries, public transport, etc.
Most businesses offer free wi-fi access to their customers as complementary services to encourage customers to try their services.
Additionally, these services are aimed at improving customer satisfaction and providing them with a memorable experience.
However, what most people do not realize is that not all wi-fi services may be safe and secure even though they may require users to have passwords for account access.
One of the easiest ways to gain access to data and personal information for hackers is by targeting users relying on public wi-fi for browsing or making online transactions.
If you are browsing websites using public wi-fi, make sure they use an SSL certificate to provide security and a high level of data encryption to enable a safe exchange of data across servers.
What are the risks associated with using public wi-fi networks?
Plus, this provides easy reach to hackers to unsecured devices across the networks allowing to intercept the communication.
Source – Allconnect.com
In addition, hackers may distribute malware using unsecured public wi-fi networks which makes activities such as file sharing riskier since hackers could hack the connection point itself, where a pop-up window might appear in front of the users.
They might prompt them to upgrade or download new software that may include malicious links or viruses intended to harm your system.
Hackers may intercept data of users across the same networks using Man in the Middle (MITM) attacks.
This allows them to view and capture all the incoming as well as outgoing data related to specific users.
Yet another technique commonly used by hackers is to trick users to join a fake wi-fi hotspot to gain access to social media accounts which may comprise sensitive, personal information.
How to keep your data safe and secure using public wi-fi networks?
1. Make sure to verify the networks
It is essential to verify the connection name with the employees or the company before using any public wi-fi network.
At times, hackers set up fake networks to attract users, which could put your device under a malicious threat.
Thus, employees will know the official network and can help you get connected in public places such as cafes or restaurants.
It’s best to use public wi-fi that is safe and protected by password access to only employees and customers.
2. Turn off the auto connection
Open public wi-fi networks in most of the places get automatically connected to your device if you have your wi-fi switched on.
It is recommended to keep your wi-fi switched off in public places, especially when you are not using them to prevent the risk of getting connected to malicious hotspots.
3. Get a VPN
Virtual Private Network is one of the safest ways to browse the Internet using a public network.
This is because the VPN routes traffic using a secure network even on public wi-fi while giving you the freedom to enjoy the privileges of the private network.
Paid VPN services can also provide more data integrity and helps to protect your personal information.
VPN provides end to end encryption which prevents possibilities of data leakages by any means.
4. Use SSL enabled websites
Users must visit websites that have enabled SSL certificate as it is more secure when compared to unencrypted connections.
This makes it more difficult for hackers to steal personal data or information which may be confidential.
Check for the website URL and if it has HTTPS in the beginning, it means that the site is safe for browsing.
5. Use security apps on your device
Security apps such as anti-virus software can help in detecting malware that might have got into your system via shared networks.
Use the latest version of the anti-virus software and if there are any suspicious activities detected, the software will issue an alert enabling users to take appropriate action.
6. Be careful while browsing sites
One of the major risks associated with public wi-fi is the danger of data loss and misuse of information by hackers.
Even though your device is secure, and all the safety measures are in place.
It’s best to avoid doing any financial transactions using public wi-fi as there is a high possibility of giving out your personal information to hackers.
7. Secure your accounts
Apart from securing your financial information, it is key to keep all your email and social media accounts secure.
It is recommended to use two-factor authentication where even if the hackers have access to your password, they may not be able to log into your accounts.
Never use the remember password option on public wi-fi and sign off from your accounts after you have finished the task.
8. Disconnect public wi-fi
If you connect your device using public wi-fi, some information may be retained whenever you connect to the network.
It is best to delete the public wi-fi and use the forget password option after finishing your task to prevent unauthorized access to your information by hackers.
Security is an important aspect while navigating public wi-fi systems else it can increase the risk of losing your valuable data from hackers.
Follow some of the simple tips which we have shared above to reduce the possibilities of cybercrimes among public networks.
When you are using mobile devices, it pays to be vigilant and be aware of the security risks involved using public wi-fi systems.
Public wi-fi certainly offers distinct advantages to the users with the convenience of accessing the information on the go.
But users need to follow the right safety precautions to safeguard their data and information against possible intruders with malicious intent.