Jun 21, 2022
When visiting the coffee shop or airport, you may be tempted to connect to free public Wi-Fi to browse the web. While convenient, a public Wi-Fi network can pose security risks to your sensitive information.
When using public Wi-Fi, it's important to remain vigilant. If a connection isn’t asking for a password or redirects you to sketchy sites instantly upon connection, considering steering away from that site. Another suggestion from many cybersecurity experts is to use or purchase a secure virtual private network (VPN) from a reputable company. VPNs are used as shields against attackers and protect your information from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi.
Another key piece of advice is being aware of the websites you’re visiting on any public Wi-Fi connection. Avoid accessing websites that may hold your sensitive information, including financial or healthcare accounts. There is a feature on most devices that allows you to auto-connect to Wi-Fi networks near you. If you know you’re going to be using a public Wi-Fi connection, be sure to check to see that the setting is turned off.
Learn more about the different types of Wi-Fi risks on public networks and how you can protect yourself.
Malware can be distributed in a variety of ways. Sometimes, malware can download without you clicking on anything.
There are many ways attackers will try to trick you with malware. This includes offering prizes, trips, or even money. Attackers will also try to find “holes,” or vulnerabilities, in the software of users’ computers and see where they can insert their malicious software.
This is why many companies hire cybersecurity engineers to hack into their networks to see where those vulnerabilities exist in their software.
Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) Attacks
A common threat that many people come across are attacks called “Man-in-the-Middle” attacks. The name comes from the transition of data from point A, which is your personal device, and point B, the website you are visiting.
Attackers will attempt to get in between the two points and intercept the data. These attacks mainly happen on sites that do not have “HTTPS” (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). When visiting sites, be sure to look at the URL before clicking around the site. Many browsers either block or warn users but double-checking that you have a secure connection is never a bad thing.
Merriam-Webster defines encryption as “the act or process of encrypting something: a conversion of something (such as data) into a code or cipher.” In layman’s terms, encrypted networks send information between your device and the router in the form of a secret code.
When they’re installed in your home or at your place of business, they are typically done by an IT professional, so there is no reason to worry about your network being unencrypted. But not every public Wi-Fi network is necessarily unencrypted, and there is no actual way for the user to see if it has been encrypted.
Snooping & Sniffing Attacks
This next risk is more of a broad term. Attackers will basically “eavesdrop” on users over unsecured Wi-Fi. Hackers can view your browsing history, password history, social media, and login information. If attackers get far enough into your software, they can even access private conversations that you have through email and instant messaging from your device.
This can be one of the scarier risks when it comes to utilizing public Wi-Fi because of the sensitive information that these attackers can find.
Hostile or malicious Wi-Fi hotspots are networks that attackers create to mimic real, legitimate networks by naming them almost the same as the secured Wi-Fi network. This can trick users into quickly clicking the network that they think is secure.
Stay Prepared with Blade’s Cyber Security Services
Just because it’s free Wi-Fi doesn’t mean it’s safe. Learn more about keeping your computer up to date with virus protection and how to best keep your personal information safe with the experts at Blade. Contact us to learn more about our industry-leading Cybersecurity support and other services.