The popularity of Wi-Fi networks is increasing rapidly, and so are the associated risks. As a user, you need to be extra cautious and take proper measures to protect yourself on public Wi-Fi. The increasing popularity of public Wi-Fi is primarily influenced by its ease of deployment and network convenience.
Despite this fact, public Wi-Fi remains vulnerable spots inhabited by precarious cybercriminals. You should know radio waves transmit all the data transfers over public Wi-Fi in the open space and not physical wires. This explains why public Wi-Fi is hazardous.
Some of the leading security concerns that are associated with public Wi-Fi include the following:
- Unauthorized computer access
- Wi-Fi sniffing
- Evil twin attacks
- Malware injections
- Denial of Service attacks
- Session hijacking
- Man-In-The-Middle attacks
- Traffic disruption
As a user, you should use the available technologies, measures, and tools to protect yourself from the risks associated with using public Wi-Fi. In this article, I explain six of these tools and measures.
Use A VPN
A Virtual Private Network is one of the most robust security mechanisms that you should acquire to protect yourself from the security risks associated with using public Wi-Fi. A VPN superimposes a private network on the internet, creating a point-to-point encryption tunnel between a user and a server. Encryption makes it difficult for a hacker to access a network connection and decipher the information in transit. Only the party at the end of the tunnel can access, read and interpret the messages.
Therefore, virtual Private Networks are critical tools that you need to acquire to be on the safe side. It is essential to obtain the right VPN. With so many Virtual Private Network service providers, it can be challenging to acquire the right VPN. I will strongly advise you against acquiring a free VPN. You should instead go for a premium VPN and get the best services for the money you pay.
Use a Website with HTTPS
If you do not have access to a Virtual Private Network, then the second-best option is to ensure that you only visit encrypted websites. To establish whether a website is encrypted, you should check the address of the website. If the address starts with HTTPS, then it means that the website is secure. If, on the contrary, the address begins with HTTP, then the website is not secure. The S in HTTPS stands for secure. HTTPS websites have an SSL Certificate which is the protocol that encrypts all communications between web servers and your browser. All communications that happen between you and websites that have an SSL certificate are encrypted.
All data that is sent between your browsers and website servers will go through an indecipherable format. The communication can only be decrypted by the intended party who has the right key to do so. Visiting HTTPS websites when using public Wi-Fi is not a guarantee that you won’t be attacked. However, even if a hacker succeeds in accessing the communication, the hacker will not do anything with the information because it is encrypted. Apart from looking for HTTPS, other indicators show that a visiting website has an SSL certificate. For instance, you can check if the website has a padlock symbol.
Keep the Firewall Enabled
A firewall is a software or hardware security mechanism designed to keep fire (in the form of cyber threats) away from your connection. Enabling a firewall helps to prevent your connection from any form of disruptive and destructive forces. This helps to protect your data from any form of compromise. Although a firewall does not guarantee full immunity from security threats, it is an essential tool worth having, especially when using public Wi-Fi.
Apart from controlling inbound and outbound traffic, the firewall also acts as a barrier that secures your network from malware attacks. It does this by aggressively monitoring the data packets from the web and checking if they are safe and free of security threats. It will block any form of risky data from entering your network, therefore protecting your entire connection.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the significant security threats associated with using public Wi-Fi is malware infections. Malware infections are increasingly becoming a nuisance. To protect your connection from malware threats, you will need an anti-malware tool. For instance, using an anti-virus will help you safeguard your connection while using public Wi-Fi.
It does this by detecting and preventing malware forms that might gain entry into your system by taking advantage of the Wi-Fi connection. Whenever the anti-virus detects any form of malware or any malicious attacks, it will quickly alert you of the same. To ensure that you are safe on public Wi-Fi, you should install the anti-virus.
Do Not Give Away Too Much Info
Whenever you sign up for a public Wi-Fi that requires many personal details, you should be wary about using such a network. It could be a hacker’s trap whose main aim is to extort information from users. You should not be compelled to give out your details, such as your primary email address and phone number.
Most stores, restaurants, and shopping centers that do this are after knowing your contact information and other personal details so that they can tailor their products and marketing accordingly. I am sure you do not want to tradeoff your confidential information for free internet access.
Know Who to Trust
Not all public Wi-Fi are safe. A hacker can use public Wi-Fi as bait to attract unsuspecting users. For this reason, you must stick to well-known and trustworthy connections. Familiar Wi-Fi networks are less risky. Indeed, no public Wi-Fi is secure. However, in terms of the network’s safety, well-known networks will beat out the random network operated by mysterious third parties that pops-up on your device as you walk around restaurants and shopping malls.
I am not saying that the connections are insecure. However, they are the most direct link between you and a hacker. The best move is to stick to those connections that you have used before. Also, limit yourself to using a few connections. The more you sign up for unknown public Wi-Fi connections, the more you risk your networks being attacked by a hacker.
As much as technology advancements come with many benefits that improve human lives, they also bring numerous security risks. Wi-Fi wireless technology is no different. They have contributed to enhancing information transfer processes because they provide quick and expedient network connections that facilitate the fast transfer of information.
Nonetheless, Wi-Fi connections also pose significant security risks to users who do not understand the measures they can take to protect themselves from those risks. In this article, I have explained the tips you can implement to be on the safe side when using public Wi-Fi. I advise you to implement all these measures. The more safety measures that you have, the more secure you will be.