Public Wi-Fi can be a lifesaver in those moments where one needs to urgently connect to the Internet and has no other option. Public Wi-FI also serves as a great way for persons on a budget with their Internet subscription plan to connect to the Internet without incurring extra costs. Public Wi-Fi is also readily available, from coffee shops to airports and hotels.
As much as the use of public Wi-Fi comes with the advantage of incurring lower costs and helps with emergency moments, it also exposes users to countless threats. We will be highlighting those threats, as well as sharing tips for staying safe while using public Wi-Fi and choosing the best precautionary measures. For VPNs, for example, it is necessary to go through resources such as VPN reviews when deciding on the best VPN.
Public Wi-Fi threats
Research has established that public Wi-Fi is not as secure as users typically assume. It has been established that the WPA2 encryption which is the standard encryption on a lot of Wi-Fi does not provide a lot of security to users as a hacker with the right skill set can access users’ information and invade their privacy.
Seeing that a lot of establishments that offer public Wi-Fi use the WPA2 standard encryption, it is important to consider taking precautions while using public Wi-Fi.
The common security threats from using public Wi-Fi are highlighted below.
Malicious hotspots and malware distribution
Hackers lurk around public Wi-Fi and even create malicious hotspots to access users’ information. With malware distribution, a hacker entices a user to download a file with malware which gives access to the victim’s device.
Victims cannot generally tell when a malware is on their device and the hacker could gain access to the user’s phone unrestricted for a long period. Malware gives both online and offline access to the victim’s device and the scope of the attack could be unpredictable.
With malicious hotspots, hackers set up a Wi-Fi connection with which they can steal users information and mask the hotspot as a legitimate one sometimes copying the name of a nearby legitimate hotspot.
Snooping, sniffing and man-in-the-middle attacks
These attacks are aimed at intercepting communications between a user’s device and the WIFi allowing hackers to steal users’ information. Hackers concentrate majorly on accessing a user’s information undetected and apply several methods and tools in achieving that goal. One of such methods is the interception of file sharing.
How to stay safe while using public Wi-Fi
While using public Wi-Fi, it is important to take precautionary measures because of the security threats which include those mentioned above. Some of the precautionary measures that can be taken while using public Wi-Fi are highlighted below.Do not enter personal information when using public Wi-Fi
Hackers generally hunt for personal information of users. If the user does not enter any personal or sensitive information while they are connected to public Wi-Fi, even if the hacker employs the best tools, they will get nothing from the hacker.
Such sensitive and personal information include address, credit card information, passwords, social security number, and phone number. This means staying away from platforms that require the information highlighted above while connected to a public Wi-Fi
Use a VPN
A VPN is a necessity for persons that need to use public Wi-Fi consistently. When one uses a VPN, the information they share while using public Wi-Fi becomes encrypted as it goes through the VPN server.
With a VPN, one can thus stay above the security threats associated with the use of public Wi-Fi. Even if a hacker intercepts the information of a VPN user, the information will be encrypted and useless to the hackers.
When choosing a VPN, it is important to consider the different features that tell the level of security and privacy offered. Trusted VPN reviews available online consider the different features and guide intending users in making the best decisions.
Disable file sharing
When file sharing is turned on, hackers are given more room to attack the user. A major precautionary measure for staying safe while connected to public Wi-Fi is to turn off file sharing.
The operating system of some devices turns off file sharing when users activate the public option when they connect to public Wi-Fi. Even if the only option is to turn off file sharing manually, it is important to take that measure to ensure safety while using public Wi-Fi.
Get an unlimited data plan
Public Wi-Fi, more often than not, come to the rescue when one has no other option. To prevent such emergency moments, investing in an unlimited data plan is a great idea. With an unlimited data plan, one would never experience moments where they have no option but to connect to public Wi-Fi and would stay completely safe from the security threats.
The use of public Wi-Fi comes with a lot of risks and it is advised to take precautionary measures against these risks, especially if it is not possible to stay completely off the public Wi-Fi.