We’ve all used public WiFi way too many times without even being aware of the dangers lurking behind it. It’s difficult to resist connecting to public networks because they are readily available and absolutely free. However, what you’re about to learn right now will completely change your mind and make you hesitant about using public WiFi again!
Why Is Public WiFi Dangerous
All information that goes to and from your device while connected on a public network is openly available to anyone else connected to the same network. In other words, all your online activities and data such as usernames, passwords, and search history can easily be accessed through the public network. The worst part is that it doesn’t take specialist equipment or hacking expertise to get your hand on someone else’s data through public WiFi. In fact, anyone with the right software can do this within a few minutes.
That is why hackers use vulnerable public networks to intercept communication between different devices. These attacks where hackers intercept connections are called man-in-the-middle attacks. Hackers use this technique to get their hands on sensitive data that can later be used for malicious purposes. The two other threats you are facing every time you log on a public WiFi network include malware attacks and WiFi sniffing.
Malware attacks include the technique of spreading malware that has the ability to steal data and give hackers access to larger systems. This is by far the most dangerous type of security threat related to public WiFi networks. Lastly, WiFi sniffing is another simple method that can be executed by anyone on the same network as you. This method includes monitoring and analyzing WiFi traffic to collect pieces of data and files such as photos, contacts, etc.
Stay Protected When Using Public WiFi
Now that you know that anyone can exploit your data while you’re connected to an open network, it is important to learn how to keep your device protected. The best way to keep your data safe is to simply avoid open networks without any security. However, you are most likely going to find yourself in a situation where you absolutely need to use free WiFi, which means you will need another type of protection.
In this case, make sure to have a virtual private network installed on your device. A VPN will keep your data and devices safe by fully encrypting your online activities. As long as you have a VPN, you can browse the internet via public networks completely anonymously. This will make it impossible for hackers to trace your activities and tie them to your devices. Make sure to use a reliable VPN provider with strong encryption protocols to ensure maximum security.
We hope that you are now more aware of the potential risks of using open public networks. If you cannot stay away from them completely, make sure to use a virtual private network to keep your data and devices secured. For more security measures, look into the NIST cybersecurity framework that offers a clear overview of important cybersecurity procedures.