Why Should You be Safe on Public WiFi?

protect from open wifi

Internet security is still a taboo topic among all people who consider themselves the active users of the World Wide Web. One thing is certain, though – there is a serious lack of knowledge among the users of how things actually function and how to protect from the possible threats. Let’s face it – antivirus is not all the protection that you are going to need, especially if you travel a lot and use a lot of WiFis over the world.

Who is a possible target on open WiFi hotspots?

An open WiFi hotspot is the one that you can connect to without having to enter the password. However, even those that are protected by a password can be considered open if everyone knows the hidden characters that open it, which is usually the case with the cafes, hotels and restaurants that you visit.

So who is the possible target? Everyone, basically. Whenever you connect to a public WiFi you enter the unexplored world of security. I am saying this because people who setup public WiFi are usually unaware themselves at how easy a target everyone can be. Demographics do not apply here, only the general knowledge about the ways of the Wi-Fi are applicable and whether you are a senior citizen or a person in their prime you are prone to being a target due to the lack of security that you ought to have on your phone, tablet or laptop.

Common places where you can use WiFi and be an easy target

Let’s list some of the well-known places that you can use WiFi and where you probably used it before.

  • Airports/Airplanes–millions of people travel the world on a daily basis and there is not a more perfect place for the hackers to attack and steal your information but via WiFi on airports. Their WiFi is usually open and very fast with dozens of devices constantly being connected to it.
  • Libraries – all well-equipped libraries around the world have WiFi which is used to access even more books. Their WiFis are also open and poorly secured. If the library is big and there are people reading there constantly, the chances are big that some of the internet outlaws will try to steal your data.
  • Cafes, restaurants, bars – the trend of going to a cafe and working from there has been on the rise lately, making cafes the perfect target for hackers. Although their WiFi is usually secured with a password, as a customer you are likely to get the password from the waiter/waitress. This means that their password, if not changed often is practically non-existing. Furthermore, cafes are usually located in the heart of cities with dozens of other WiFis around, which means that someone can set up a WiFi with identical name and make you connect to it.
  • Parks – often is the case to put free WiFi stands in parks in the cities. If the city is big, this means that there are more people going through the park on a daily basis and connecting to a WiFi. What makes people in parks even easier target is the fact that they are probably unaware of threats that await them when they connect to a WiFi.

What are the threats that you may face over public WiFi?

Things that can be done to you and your phone when accessing a public WiFi are crazy & are  limitless. Here are some of the threats that can happen to you while you are on a public WiFi and that you thought can be done only in movies.

  • Stealing your identity – someone who hacks into your device via public WiFi can easily steal easily mess up your life. This often happens not to individuals but to companies that have their brand name misused. Therefore, if you happen to work for a company via public WiFi, consider twice the possibilities.
  • Intercepting your data – if you happen to send or receive something via public WiFi, you make yourself an easy target to people who want to intercept your data. This is important for both individuals and companies. If you are, for example, sending some personal documents to someone, they can be used for blackmailing you in order not to reveal them to anyone. It can become worse if you send company data via public Wi-Fi – it can destroy the whole company.
  • Stealing information – stealing information is the easiest thing one can do to you when you connect to a public WiFi. This means that if you connect to a bank account on public WiFi, you can say goodbye to your funds. In fact, it is recommended never to connect to your bank accounts via any kind of WiFi except your own or your cellular data.

Famous examples of data theft on public WiFi

One of the famous examples of data theft happened when one of the passengers who traveled by American Airlines turned to a journalist in order to reveal how all the passengers in that airplane unwillingly given their personal information when they connected to a WiFi during the flight. The company called GoGo Wireless which provided WiFi for the airplanes later explained that they did not have any protection to their WiFi due to the fact that there indeed is no adequate protection for this kind of internet access.

Tips and tricks on how to stay safe on public WiFi

There are several things that you can do in order to increase your safety and eventually eliminate the possibility of getting hacked on public WiFis. Take a look at the tips and trick below.

  1. Check if the file sharing option is turned off – All devices and OSs that you use in order to connect to a public WiFi must have an option to turn sharing off, because with sharing turned on, you practically allow everyone to freely roam your device and take whatever they like from you.
  2. Turn off auto connection – Some device may have auto connection turned on, which means that it will connect automatically to any WiFi that it comes upon. This means that it can connect to open WiFis that are created only to lure people to connect to it in order to steal their information. With it turned off, you will have to manually choose a WiFi and connect to it.
  3. Two-Factor Authentication should be used – Two-Factor Authentication has become immensely popular nowadays and it includes more information from you in order to log in. This usually means that apart from your password, you will also be given a code via your phone or mail to enter in order to log in. You can use this type of identification as well for connecting on public WiFis and protection of your device.
  4. Make sure that your firewall is turned on – sometimes firewall software comes as a part of antivirus software and sometimes separately but you should make sure that you have it and that it is turned on. It can put a protective layer on your device and decrease the chance of getting hacked.
  5. Ask for the validity of WiFi – as previously mentioned, hackers have their own way of setting traps and one of them is to create an open WiFi with the same name as the WiFi that you want to connect. You can always ask someone to whose WiFi you are connecting if you are on the right connection.
  6. Use a VPN – the most secure way is to definitely use a Virtual Private Network such as LimeVPN and increase your anonymity and security to the maximum. VPNs have their own way of protecting your devices when connecting to a public WiFi that it makes it virtually impossible for your data to get stolen.Buy a Cheap VPN !

Conclusion

Public WiFis are a very useful thing that took humanity to the next level and without WiFis being available everywhere we would not be able to imagine our lives. However, it has its dark side and that is hacker lurking behind every your wrong step and waiting for you to make a mistake. In order to prevent possible disaster, you can check out the steps listed above.

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A Complete gamer and a Tech Geek. Brings out all her thoughts and love in writing blogs on IOT, software, technology etc