5 Myths About Your Wi-Fi Hotspot

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WiFi hotspots are a convenient way to connect to the internet when you are moving about outside the house. Many Internet surfers prefer to use wifi hotspots instead of their phone’s 3G or 4G mobile data connection. It is important to realize, however, that in today’s world, keeping your data secure should come first.

Frequently, wifi hotspots come with many security holes which are easy for hackers to attack. Users typically hold to many deeply held myths that hide the risks from them until it is too late. Here are some important wifi hotspot myths you will want to dispel and to find out what the best ways are for keeping yourself safe on the internet.

Myth: Public Wifi Is Secure

Thinking that public wifi hotspots are a secure way for browsing the internet is perhaps one of the most pervasive myths. Many users would not hesitate to connect to sensitive online services like e-commerce sites and financial sites from wifi hotspots.

Some users think that as long as they keep their account passwords safe from others’, then their connections to online services will be safe. The reality, however, is that public wifi is a very insecure method of connecting to the internet. You should, therefore, restrain yourself from insecure sites with no personal information.

Hackers use all kinds of creative methods to capture data traversing over public wifi, including special devices that capture passwords that you may enter as you connect to public wifi. The very nature of public wifi typically means that it is an ideal target for a hacker, who is able to connect just like everyone else and have many unsuspecting targets in one easy place.

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To make your connection over public wifi more secure, you should consider using a VPN service such as LimeVPN. A VPN service encrypts your connection and keeps your communications private. This gives you better security than users browsing on the wifi hotspot directly.

Public wifi, in many instances, takes a minimal approach to security. This means that, often, the connection is unencrypted. When your connection is unencrypted, the data packets from your mobile device can be scooped up by network listeners, and they can see what you are passing along. All manner of information like passwords, usernames and transaction data can be stolen. The attackers can then initiate hacks ranging from identity and property theft to improperly using your accounts.

Myth: Password-protected Wifi Hotspots Are Completely Safe

In case your wifi hotspot requires a username and password to log in, you might think that now your connection to the internet is completely safe. These passwords and logins typically mean that you have to get approved to join the network. Some cafes, for example, give out passwords to patrons. In some cases, an establishment may ask you to create an account with connection credentials of your choice. Since not just anyone can walk up and connect to the network, you would, therefore, think that the connections on this network have a level of privacy or security.

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The reality is that data that passes through these wifi hotspots is still at great risk from hacking and snooping attacks. A password only controls who can or cannot get onto the network. Since the data you are working with, passes through an often unencrypted public network, it is as vulnerable to an attacker as a wifi hotspot that does not use a password.

Yet an additional point of weakness for password-protected wifi hotspots is the storage of passwords themselves. In places where you need to set your own username and password, the establishment may have a simple way of storing your logins. Many places run by non-technical people will store your passwords as plain text in an unsecured database, or worse, in some ad-hoc storage mechanism like notebooks or spreadsheets.

When, inevitably, a dedicated hacker breaks into the data storage of these establishments, your username and password can lead them to you. In case you have reused that same password in any of your other online accounts, armed with a username, email, and password, a hacker can now break into your other accounts.

Myth: Wifi Hackers Only Target Important Institutions

With all the news of hackers targeting important institutions like the U.S. government or Microsoft, Apple and the like, it may seem like hackers would never be interested in you. Hackers are frequently motivated by the prospect of collecting valuable information that may be easily converted into financial gain. Targeting important market players like these corporations, banks, and others seem like a natural decision for them.

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In actual practice, however, hackers are motivated by a variety of motivations. Some hackers delight in breaking into systems merely to cause havoc. Some hackers are not interested in financial gain at all, merely breaking into systems to make a point or to prove how good they are at hacking. These hackers will not limit themselves to important institutions that provide them a clear route to making money with the information they steal.

When you connect to wifi hotspots, you are a natural target for hackers just as much as if you were a big institution. Your data and systems are still valuable to these hackers, who may wish nothing more than to break into your system and expose your photos for all the world to see. Some less experienced hackers will target everyday wifi users for the sake of gaining experience before they turn their attention to more lucrative targets.

Myth: It Takes A Lot Of Skill To Hack You

Hacking is a hard skill, but frequently, internet users over-estimate how difficult it is to hack wifi hotspot users. Some hacks can be carried out using nothing more than a mobile device connected to the same wifi hotspot. You can therefore not count out the possibility that someone connected to your hotspot is capable of snooping in on your internet activities.

There are many powerful and easy to use tools that hobbyist hackers can download and use without requiring a high level of skill. When they collect your data, they can still do a lot of harm regardless of their lack of skill.

Myth: Wifi Hotspots Are Preferable To 3G Or 4G

Many users prefer to switch over to wifi hotspots whenever possible. The common belief is that as data is saved using wifi hotspot, it is preferred over the mobile phone’s 3G or 4G data plan. While in terms of data savings this may have some truth to it, in actual practice, users are ignoring one of the key differences between the two.

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Your 3G or 4G data plan comes with encrypted data exchange to your cell phone service provider’s towers and boosters. In many instances, your communications are safer going through the 3G or 4G data plan. When using your apps such as banking apps and other highly personal apps, it is far better to always use your phone’s 3G or 4G data connection than using a wifi hotspot.

Clearing Myths About Wifi Hotspots And Staying Safe

In many ways, clearing these myths about your wi-fi hotspot can be hard at first. Hackers seem to be ever far away and  only target important institutions, but in reality, they frequently target users just like you. Smart ways to protect your data include using VPN services to mediate between your internet device and using encryption wherever possible. As wifi users, we can never take our security on the internet for granted.

A Complete gamer and a Tech Geek. Brings out all her thoughts and Love in Writing Techie blogs.