These days, many coffee shops, airports, shopping malls, and hotels provide people the opportunity to have access to free Wi-Fi. People also love using public Wi-Fi as it provides them with a chance to check their emails, browse some of their social networking profiles, and surf the web as they please. Now, here the real problem arises. The problem is that cybercriminals often keep an eye on public Wi-Fi networks. These criminals intercept the data components moved across the links. Therefore, criminals gain access to account passwords, banking details, and credentials, and other kinds of valuable information. Hence, it is significant to follow safety protocols when using public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Methods used by hackers for stealing personal data
Hackers mainly use two different methods for stealing personal data from the users connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot. These are discussed below in brief.
Hackers using the same network
The goal of any hacker is to connect with a network that has got multiple users connected with it. Hence, public Wi-Fi networks seem so attractive to them. After breaching entry into a network like that, the hacker can use methods for having control over the various communications and data available in the network. The Man in the Middle or MITM technique is a method hacker used to gain access to such information. They focus on intercepting the communications between the clients and a public Wi-Fi router. It allows them to have complete control over all data and information that is incoming and outgoing. Hackers often use the same network for sharing files that carry different malware. Hence, malware can be used for infiltrating a target computer or device.
Hackers using fake Wi-Fi hotspots
Hackers may also use a fake network so that unsuspecting users can be tricked into using it. In this way, they can access the banking and personal information you may have on your devices. They can also get access to your social accounts and financial credentials. If you have a file- sharing option activated on your device, they can easily access your files from the Wi-Fi hotspot. Hence, take special care to ensure that hackers do not gain access to your personal information. Using the fake network allows the hackers to inject malware into your system through an email or a message. These malware applications can access your documents, passwords, photos, communication logs, and other vital details.
Methods to stay safe while using a public Wi-Fi
Follow these methods below to stay safe in public Wi-Fi.
Use a VPN
Virtual Private Network or VPN is one of the securest means to access public Wi-Fi networks when surfing the web or visiting social media profiles. It can help you keep all your personal information safe from being hacked. VPNs encrypt the data traffic and serve as a protective tunnel between browser and server. It means the data that passes via the tunnel can’t get accessed by hackers. They cannot see anything that you do while you are online. VPNs also hide your IP using another IP address. So even if you are browsing your internet from London, the IP address may show you are in Turkey or Australia.
Consider all types of Wi-Fi links with a healthy skepticism
Do not immediately assume that all Wi-Fi links are legitimate. Many hackers lure people into using a vulnerable connection by providing a bogus link. Hence, you must not connect with some unknown wireless access point.
Verify the legitimacy of a wireless connection
Before you log into a wireless connection, make sure that you speak with the provider of the public Wi-Fi connection to ensure that the Wi-Fi link is a genuine one. Learn about the IP address and connection’s name so that any chance of hackers trying to get into your device is zero.
An antivirus program can provide you with the protection you need when using a public Wi-Fi connection. They help detect malware that can get inside your system as you use a shared network. Keep your antivirus program updated to the latest version. The anti-virus must have an updated database. If some malware or virus gets into your system, you will get an alert that will help you safeguard your device against the breach.
Have the firewall in your device enabled
By having your device’s firewall turned on, you can prevent hackers from having unauthorized access to it. The firewall serves as a barrier to protect the device from data-based malware threats.
You should also follow the guidelines below to ensure that you always stay safe while using a public Wi-Fi network.
Keep the option of automatic connection turned off at all times.
Never conduct financial transactions while using public networks.
Make use of the 2-factor authentication process. It can prevent hackers from accessing your accounts even if they have the username and password.
Following the abovementioned guidelines can keep your device safe when operating on a public Wi-Fi network. If you want to know more about cyber security while accessing a public Wi-Fi network, you can click here.