Public WiFi has become extremely popular, with consumers browsing the web courtesy of local governments, restaurants, neighbourhood coffee shops, hotels, airports, and even retail outlets offer a free hot spot. These networks are used by millions of people daily. Unfortunately, this comes at a price, and many don’t understand the public WiFi risks associated with these connections. The same features that make free WiFi hotspots desirable for consumers make them desirable for hackers. Public WiFi hotspots require no authentication to establish the network connection. This creates an easy opportunity for hackers to get access to unsecured devices on the same network. The hacker can have access to every piece of information you’re sending out on the Internet which can include credit card information, security credentials, important emails, and the list goes on. Once the hacker has this information, they can access your systems as if they were you. They can also use the public WiFi connection to distribute malware onto devices. An important thing to remember is if you allow sharing across a network, the hacker can add infected software onto your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Mobile use is increasing rapidly every year, so you can expect internet security issues and public WiFi risks also to grow. What most people don’t realize is that free public WiFi isn’t secure. Even if it requires a password to login, that doesn’t necessarily mean your online activities are safe. You might love public WiFi, but so do hackers. So, if you use public WiFi without protection, you’re essentially risking your online identity and money. The majority of hackers are simply going after the easy targets, and taking a few necessary precautions should keep your information safe. If you can’t avoid public WiFi networks, you should ensure you’re well protected when using them. Fortunately, there are some useful tips that you can follow to make sure you are safe while using public WiFi networks.
1. Verify The Network – It is extremely important to read the network name very carefully and ask an employee of the business if the link is the correct one. Hackers often set up fake networks, so verify the name to avoid being a victim. Another good tip is to turn off the file sharing option.
2. Use a VPN – This is a great resource for businesses because it allows employees to work from home rather than always in the office. A VPN will enable you to create a more secure connection to another network over the Internet. It can prevent web browsers and others from accessing your connection, helping to keep the information you send and receive more secure.
3. Keep WiFi Off When You’re Not Using It – Even if you haven’t actively connected to a network, the WiFi hardware in your computer is still transmitting data between any network within range. If you’re just using your computer to work on a Word or Excel document, keep your WiFi off.
4. Antivirus Software – It is the best way to safeguard your computer against viruses and other malware types such as ransomware, Trojan horses, spyware, adware, identity theft, and more. It can help detect a problem before it becomes too big to control. At the end of the day, protecting yourself from viruses and lost data is much easier than it used to be and doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Antivirus software is a must-have on any computer for business or personal use.
5. Firewall Enabled – Even if you have antivirus software installed, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your firewall turned on. Both PCs and Macs come with built-in firewall software to keep your computer safe. Make sure to check that the firewall software is enabled.
There might come a time when an unsecured public WiFi hotspot is the only connection available, and you might have a deadline at work or need to send off an email. Understanding the risks and also the precautions will help you personally and professionally when using public WiFi networks. Lastly, another great tip is instead of using these insecure networks, it is better to use your smartphone as a hotspot.