How to Use Free Public Wi-Fi Safely

Not everybody has the wonder of Wi-Fi at their disposal, so many flocks to coffee shops, libraries, and parks with municipal free Wi-Fi just to do daily browsing or work.

Then there are also those that simply log in for information or to kill time at airports and train stations.

How do we know if it is safe?

Most channels that are used and where sensitive personal data is sent through are now encrypted. And additional precautions can be set up by yourself. For example, you can buy proxy security, use a strong firewall and make sure to log off after your session.

Many people believe a proxy is one of the best ways to secure your browsing on an open network, Smartpoxy is an example of such a product that can spur up the security levels. Is it enough to keep you safe, though?

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We will now look at the risks you can face when using free Wi-Fi and how you can protect yourself and your sensitive data.

How to Use Free Public Wi-Fi Safely 1

What Are the Risks?

Two of the most significant risks we will be discussing are the potential man-in-the-middle attacks and location tracking.

Man-In-the-Middle Attacks

What Is MITM (Man-in-the Middle) Attack ❓ Types and detection methods |  Wallarm

MITM usually has three players. Number one, the victim of the scam, number two, “person” with whom the victim is communicating, and number three, the one who is intercepting communications from the victim.

How this all works is quite simple. For example, you might get an email that appears to come from your insurance company.

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And in this email, they might ask you for sensitive information like passwords, banking details, or security numbers.

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Before you can enter this sensitive information, you have to click on a link that takes you to a page that seems like your insurance company webpage, but in reality, it is not. It is a scam page designed by the scammer, and then you perform the task demanded of you.

The man-in-the-middle sent you the fake mail, and you just gave all your super-sensitive information to him on a silver platter.

This is where phishing also occurs with banks and other financial institutions. Remember your bank or insurance won’t ask for your information as they already have it.

Location Tracking

Wi-Fi can be turned into IMSI Catcher to Track Cell Phone Users Everywhere

A geolocation system or Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS) is dependent on Wi-Fi to locate any users or devices, and most of the time, GPS works hand in hand with Wi-Fi to pinpoint a location.

Some of the most common and biggest companies use GPS to identify a device that is logged into a Wi-Fi network, and they are Microsoft, Google, and Apple.

If this is making you feel a bit uncomfortable, I have some good news for you. If you move out of a Wi-Fi signal range and there aren’t any other networks around, the WPS won’t be able to pick up your signal.

In London in the UK, the underground has a Wi-Fi system that updates train schedules, but everybody logged on to the network is being tracked.

If you do not want to be tracked, you’ll have to set your phone on airplane mode or completely log off. If you do not mind being tracked, you are in the right place.

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How Can You Stay Safe on Public Network?

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If you need to use public Wi-Fi, here are a few tips to stay safe on the network.

All electronic devices can be at risk, like your tablet, laptop, pc, and smartphone. The number one safety precaution is not to use a public network, but life is not always so simple.

A VPN is always a reasonable precaution to have. Remember that virtual private networks are encrypting all the data that travels back and forth. There are great deals out there to choose from, from many reliable companies.

Use a proxy address

You can choose to buy a proxy and set it up either as a firewall or a web filter.

A new and valuable security wall is added to your phone or computer when using a proxy address. And if you add a secure web gateway, you know you are covered by threats like malware and hacking.

Always read the privacy policy before you attempt to connect to any public network. And this is a biggie as no one makes an effort to read any of the policies provided, but you should, just to be sure and have all the information at hand.

And if anything is not to your satisfaction, you can make a safe and informed decision not to log onto the network.

Try not to go to sites where you will have to supply information like banking details or other personal data. Your identity is what they are looking for the most, so stay away from those types of sites.

Try to limit access to these networks to your phone. Don’t connect your laptop as well.  

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Have strong, unique passwords

A fundamental safety rule, as this will help you a lot. Try to make your passwords creative and fun. Anything is better than your middle name and birthdate.

Hackers are clever, more than you think

Passwords should be a priority as it is a big hurdle for hackers to overcome if it is solid and unique.

Conclusion

As life begins to rely on networks to keep us connected and up to date with each passing hour, it is difficult not to log onto a free Wi-Fi network.

And if you do log on, please take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and all your sensitive information.

Go and do more research and make sure the tech you use is up to date and working correctly. And if you are not sure about any of these, then just don’t log on. It’s that simple. Rather be safe and confident than sorry and maybe broke.

Rahul Setia was born and raised in the Kaithal, Haryana. He worked at brands like Jabong, ProProfs etc. He was also in the List of Top 100 Social Media Influencer's 2019 by Status Brew. He lives in Delhi/NCR and is a Digital Gig & Founder of Websites i.e TechBlogCorner.com, ViralMasalla.com, DealorCoupons.com. Follow me on: LinkedIn, @rahulsetia007 and Facebook.

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