This guide outlines strategies to help you keep safe and secure from public wifi risks that could result in identity theft and viruses — among other problems.
Many people like using public wifi to access the internet when they’re out and about. However, not everybody is aware of the security risks associated with a public wireless network. Connecting to a free wireless network can come in handy while searching for information and checking social networks, among other tasks. But public wifi risks in places like airports, restaurants, or hotels can put your data and device at risk.
So, wifi remains the lifeline for many people. And not just because it saves your data package – which can be essential, especially for prepaid users – but there are other advantages to using wifi instead of cellular. One of the main ones is the battery. Browsing over wifi consumes much less battery than when you do the same over the cellular network. In some cases, the difference is quite large, reaching up to 15% less consumption. And that number can ensure you still have a little bit of charge left at the end of the day. The good news is that the offer of free public wifi networks has been increasing around the world.
Sounds pretty cool, but does it only have positive points? Public wifi networks are useful – it’s undeniable. But unfortunately, they can also pose dangers to your digital security. According to data from the Norton WiFi Risk Report, about 58% of people believe that their personal information is safe when using a public wifi network. But not quite. There are serious public wifi risks to consider and avoid.
On public networks, there is no guarantee that the routers are using any kind of security protocol or that they are protected by a firewall and network password. Some free wireless networks even ask for a password and registration, but this is also no guarantee, as anyone can access them.
Also watch out for fake wifi networks. Sometimes people already assume that the name of the network is the same as the name of the establishment they are in. But, there are places that do not follow this pattern and with that, you may be accessing a fake network, which only serves to attract victims to cyber scams.
Another of the public wifi risks you run is phishing practices. The term refers to traps to catch important information and data, through false messages. They can reach you via email or WhatsApp messages, for example. In general, they offer some freebie or talk about some promotion. All to convince you to click on a link.
You must be asking yourself: so what to do? Is it better not to even enter public wifi? Can you stay protected from public wifi risks on a free network? Yes, it’s not all worrying news in this wifi world. When using a public wifi network, redouble your attention. Do not click on links received via email or instant messengers such as WhatsApp. Most importantly, never access your bank account using such a network. But most off all, follow our tips below.
6 Tips to avoid public wifi risks
Free public wifi is less secure than we would like to believe. Most public wifi users are at risk of hacks. One feature that makes free public wifi desirable to both consumers and hackers is that no authentication is necessary to establish a network connection. This makes it possible for malicious parties to access unsecured gadgets.
Some public wifi risks you may encounter while using a public wireless connection include identity thefts, malware infections, data breaches, and hacker attacks. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use public wifi networks. There are various steps you can take to safeguard yourself against these threats. Continue reading to learn how to secure your personal and business data.
Establish a Firewall
Before using a public wireless network, ensure you enable your gadget’s built-in firewall to protect against public wifi risks. Although it can be unpleasant sometimes, it does its job well.
A firewall can protect you since it filters and scans the data that tries to enter your network and prevents anything that looks suspicious from getting through. It protects your device by monitoring and regulating traffic that comes in and out of your network.
Turn Off Sharing
It would be best if you didn’t share anything when connecting to a public network. Ensure you switch off sharing from the control panel or system preferences, depending on your operating system. Alternatively, you can let Windows turn it off automatically by choosing the “Public” option when you first connect to an unsecured network to help prevent public wifi risks.
Use an Antivirus
Ensure you have antivirus software installed. It will protect your gadget against malicious codes and other public wifi risks. It is essential to have a way to shield your computer from viruses, nasty rootkits, and ransomware. Most reputable antivirus providers have incorporated their software with VPN and firewall solutions.
Turn Off Wifi When You Don’t Need It
Even before you actively connect to a network, your device’s wifi hardware still transmits information between all networks within range. Although various security measures are in place to safeguard this communication from compromising you, all wireless routers don’t work the same way, and hackers are usually smart. So, turn your wifi off if you use your device in public. Doing so will not only protect you but also extend battery life.
Use a Proxy Server
Ensure you always use a proxy on all your wireless devices. Doing so is the most efficient way to ensure your connections are safe while using a public wireless network. A proxy server masks your IP address, making it hard for hackers to access your device. For maximum protection, use a reputable proxy provider. You can start by checking out the best place to buy proxies, which showcases a comprehensive list of the most noteworthy proxy suppliers to get you started.
Go for HTTPS and TLS
Sometimes you may find yourself surfing insecure HTTP sites. Always be wary. A man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacker might display an unencrypted HTTP version of the webpage you are trying to load. Moreover, a few websites still don’t use TLS certificates or only make them available to specific pages like login forms. In both cases, your information will not be 100% secure.
To maximize your security while accessing the internet in public places, force your device to connect to HTTPS webpages only. You can do this by installing a browse add-on known as HTTPS Everywhere. Using TLS connections ensures a safe connection to online platforms and is critical for sites where financial details are shared.
It is critical to stay safe while surfing in a public place. As long as you follow these tips and behave responsibly while on public wifi, you will be fine. At first, it may seem like a lot to worry about, but with time, you’ll get used to it. Happy surfing!
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio