Public WiFi: Why Not

Free WIFI! Coffee shops and hotels tout the perk of anywhere, anytime access, but free and public WIFI should be a “proceed with caution” area. While no one would deny that it’s convenient to be able to hop on the internet when you’re not at home, most users don’t realize that doing so opens them up to some pretty serious risks.

When connected to public WIFI, everything that you’re sharing between computers is accessible to anyone else on the network, making it easy for attackers to intercept the information, including passwords, usernames, etc. What’s more alarming still is that attacks can come from almost anyone (no computer science degree required), and in many forms. An article by Digital Trends highlights a couple of common attacks that you’re susceptible to when using public WIFI:

  1. Man in the Middle Attacks: As the name implies, a MitM is where an attacker places their network between you and the computer/network you’re talking to. By doing that, all the information you’re sending is secretly routed straight through their network, giving them access.
  2. Malware: Hackers are also able to use unsecured WIFI connections to install malware on your computer, enabling them to see and steal photos, turn on cameras and listen through microphones.

So how do you protect yourself and your information from dangerous attacks when using public networks? Here are a few tips:

  1. Be careful of what pages you access. Avoid going to any websites that have personal information, especially bank account info.
  2. Only use public networks that you trust. If you don’t know who owns and runs the network, assume it’s not safe and stay away!
  3. Use SSL connections only! Check every webpage that you’re going to, and make sure that it says “HTTPS”, rather than just “HTTP”, before entering the site.
  4. Use a VPN whenever possible. A VPN, or virtual private network, is used by companies and organizations to allow employees to securely connect to a private network, by creating a secure connection over a public network.

Want to learn more about how you can protect yourself and your important data when using public wifi? Call and speak with a DataPerk Tech Expert today!