Many years ago, you couldn’t access public WiFi whilst you’re out and about. Because we are so heavily dependent on technology today, businesses, shops, cafes and restaurants have their own WiFi for you to access. The whole point of it is so you don’t rush to get home because you desperately don’t want to run out of data and they hope you stay longer.
As we rely so much on the internet, we do not seem to question whether it’s safe to use. We are most importantly interested in getting connected as soon as possible. Some of us however do not understand or know that in fact public WiFi does pose a security risk to every device that connects on. In today’s blog we will highlight the threats and what you can do to prevent this happening to you in the future.
The most popular and common threat is malware. When you connect to WiFi that does not require a password, this makes it easier for hackers to get in to the network. This is because it isn’t protected by a password. There have been incidents where people have used airport WiFi to access their business emails and in the unfortunate event became a victim to their email account becoming hacked.
Once something becomes infected with malware, this can spread through emails and other content which creates a chain of damage to those who do not recognize the signs. They can also encrypt your files with malware and it can spread through your PC so sensitive data is exposed.
It’s almost like hacking but instead you are just being spied on. Snooping by cyber criminals means that they will look at what your doing, what you’re accessing on your device and may look in to any sensitive files that you may have. Cyber criminals can purchase special software that will virtually eavesdrop on WiFi signals which allows them to snoop on what people are accessing.
Examples of what they can see is what websites you access, what forms you fill in and even your log in details to apps so they can eventually hack in to your accounts. It’s quite scary to think about because this is done discretely and you will not know what is happening until it’s too late.
When connecting to a hotspot, there are a number of them that can appear in your settings. The most concerning element of this is that sometimes they are not always legitimate. Once you connect to a fake hotspot, the creator can view every website you access and essentially steal your login details for your accounts and hack them in the future.
Of course this information is concerning, but if you take the right precautions you should be able to use public WiFi freely. There are a number of things you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to connecting to WiFi:
- Do not allow your device to automatically connect to the WiFi, this should always be done manually
- If you are not using your WiFi or Bluetooth, turn it off so you reduce your chances of the above threats
- Do not use public WiFi to access accounts that contain sensitive information such as log in details and credentials
- Never log on to a network that isn’t password protected.
- Ensure that you disable your file sharing
- Visit websites that are highlighted with HTTPS in the address bar – this indicates that the website is protected
- If you decide to log in to an accounts, make sure that you log out afterwards
- Use a VPN connection to give you that extra layer of protection