A public Wi-Fi has unspeakable horrors and risks attached. You might have heard about them before. They start in a coffee shop, maybe at a mall and your personal information gets in the hands of cybercriminals. The threat is well known but the solution is not. Since the internet has been an integral part of our daily life and public Wi-Fi offers you convenience for staying online if you wish to save your mobile data. Moreover, signing up for Cox Internet packages gets you free access to their public Wi-Fi.
Secondly, all these public Wi-Fis have poor configurations and most importantly, the absence of strong passwords. The lack of basic protection makes these Wi-Fi users vulnerable to attacks from cybercriminals.
Surely, having your personal data and information stolen doesn’t sound fascinating. Here is what you need to understand to stop this from happening:
How does a hacker attack WiFi networks?
The unprotected WiFi hotspots are easy targets and super easy to compromise. So you would want to think twice before connecting to a hotspot. Whenever you are connected to a public hotspot, here’s what a hacker can do:
Malware: Malware is like a disease that infects your device from the core. It can either shut down your device entirely or give the hacker complete access to your personal files and information.
In case your device gets infected, it is quite difficult to get rid of the malware. There are multiple ways these malicious codes can slip into your device such as while booking flight tickets or ordering something from Amazon on public Wi-Fi.
Evil Twin attack: This attack is quite deceptive as a majority of us fall prey to it. Hackers create a fake access point that looks like the real ones. For example, you go to a coffee shop and it provides a wireless guest network called “CoffeeShop_Wi-Fi.” Hackers can decide a similar access point of their own and call it “CoffeeShop_Wi-Fi_Free.” Once you connect to this twin, your information becomes visible to the hacker.
Wi-Fi sniffing: The hackers use a simple software that is surprisingly free and legal to use. The software allows them to spy on your online activities, logins, and personal information.
How does a VPN protect you?
Virtual Private Network or VPN ensures confidentiality by simply encrypting your data so not anyone who is snooping on your network will be able to identify what you’re transmitting. Virtual Private Networks provide you a secure connection.
For example, all the data and messages you send or receive on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted which means they cannot be accessed. Similarly, connecting to a hotspot or any internet for that matter strongly encrypts the network communication and there is no way someone can hack into your device. Through VPN, all your passwords, credit card numbers, and bank details stay secure.
Moreover, VPN creates an extra layer of the blanket on your location by replacing your IP address with the IP of a remote VPN service. It not only protects your identity but also gives you access to restricted websites. However, do make sure all your activities are under the legal status in your country to avoid any related contingencies!
An ultimate guide to securing public Wi-Fi
Here’s how you can keep yourself safe on a public Wi-Fi:
Install a reliable VPN: As we have already discussed the possible implications of a cyberattack, and how important it is to install a reliable VPN. Therefore, invest in a reliable VPN. This helps you protect your data and sensitive information.
Disable auto-connect: Make sure you disable the auto-connect option on your device. This will prevent your device from automatically connecting with a hotspot you were connected to previously.
Don’t log into accounts: If you don’t have mobile data to use the internet and are left with no choice but to connect with a public Wi-Fi, make sure that you don’t log into any of your sensitive accounts. This includes your work network, bank accounts and social networks.
Always double check before connecting: We have already discussed the evil twin attack and to be on the safer side, always check with a staff member before joining a free public Wi-Fi.
You’ll come across many VPNs, each of them claiming to be the best. Before getting a VPN, make sure it has strong encryption, easy access, trusted security, no adds, and most importantly, protection against malware.