There comes that moment, once in a while, when there’s an urgent need to use the Internet, and the only available Internet connection is public Wi-Fi which research has shown is not generally secure.
In such moments, most people connect to the public Wi-Fi damning the consequences while hoping that nemesis just doesn’t catch up with them. Yes, there are several threats of public Wi-Fi as users’ information and data can be hacked when they connect to a public Wi-Fi. If you’re wondering how valid the threats of public Wi-Fi are, we have put together five of the most frequent threats of public Wi-Fi. We will also be sharing tips for staying safe while using public Wi-Fi just in case it becomes the last resort.
Threats of public Wi-Fi
Malware is a major form of threat to persons that use public Wi-Fi as they can be downloaded over the public network. Hackers access the devices of persons using a public Wi-Fi through enabled file-sharing, send the malware which when downloaded can enable the hacker to extract information from the victim’s device.
This form of threat is particularly dangerous because, with the right malware, a hacker can access both online and offline information from the devices of the victim, even recording their calls and chats.
A simple tip for preventing this threat is to turn off file-sharing when one is connected to public Wi-Fi. The operating systems of certain devices can automatically turn off file-sharing when one is connected to public Wi-Fi.
This threat gives hackers access to the information one entered when they were using the Wi-Fi. With man-in-the-middle attacks, hackers create a go-between system that intercepts the information the victim enter into the platforms they access while connected to the Wi-Fi.
So, as a person about their browsing activity, a hacker with the right tools can access their activity.
To avoid this threat, it is important to avoid entering personal and delicate information into websites while using public Wi-Fi. It is also important to ensure that the websites one accesses with a public Wi-Fi are secured.
Snooping and sniffing
Man-in-the-middle attacks are a subset of snooping and sniffing. Snooping and sniffing is simply the process where hackers spy on one’s online activities with the use of certain tools which include spoofing websites.
Snooping and sniffing is based on the ability of the hacker to access information on the victim’s devices undetected with the use of the right tools. Hackers with the right skillset can leverage this threat and steal sensitive information undetected from multiple users.
To avoid falling prey to such hackers, proactiveness is essential. This proactiveness includes ensuring that sensitive information is not shared over unsecured connections.
Malicious hotspots can be set up by hackers simply to steal information off users’ devices, and they are another common form of threat users of public Wi-Fi can be exposed to. When a user connects to a malicious hotspot, the hacker gets full access to their online activity and sensitive information shared with the Wi-Fi connection.
In setting up malicious hotspots, hackers ensure that they seem legitimate, sometimes with similar names to a legitimate Wi-Fi in the area. Malicious hotspots could also be set in areas where the demand for public Wi-Fi is higher than the supply. Thus, unsuspecting individuals will seek relief in the malicious hotspot even when they are not sure if its source.
To avoid this threat, it is important to stick with only encrypted networks and employ a method that hides one’s IP address and encrypted their online activity such as VPNs.
The lack of encryption on a network exposes its users to several threats and information sent with such networks can be intercepted by a third-party. Encryption ensures that information shared stay within an established network and is inaccessible to hackers.
It is thus important for organizations and businesses that provide public Wi-Fi to engage the services of an IT personnel to ensure that a router is encrypted.
How to stay safe from threats of public Wi-Fi
Hackers continuously seek improved means of accessing personal information especially with public Wi-Fi, and it is imperative to take at least the basic step towards staying safe from the threats.
The measures for staying safe from the threats of using public Wi-Fi include the use of VPN, disabling file-sharing and avoiding sharing personal information when connected to a public Wi-Fi.
VPNs are well-established as measures for staying safe from public Wi-Fi threats. A VPN provides a level of encryption that is inaccessible to a hacker as the user’s browser traffic is rerouted to the server of the VPN and encrypted. Security from the threats of using public Wi-Fi is one of the major benefits of a VPN, especially for persons that telecommute.
It is important to ensure total safety from the threats of public Wi-Fi as one cannot predict the scope or even detect information theft easily, and VPNs offer that level of privacy and security.