While there are many ways to connect to the internet these days, Wi-fi remains the most preferred medium of all. They provide greater speeds and higher download volumes. This is the reason people are always in search of wi-fi hotspots anywhere they go. We jump at the first chance of connecting to wi-fi in any public space being little aware of the threats that come with it. A public wi-fi may be a great source of connecting to the internet but there are few things that users should always bear in mind.
Types of public Wi-fi
Generally, public wi-fi hotspots are either secured or unsecured. This means that either they are password protected or not. The ones with even a basic level of security like a simple password are relatively safe. Although they are not completely secure, they offer some type of buffer which deters unauthorized or unethical use. It is the open network which is the greatest threat. Unfortunately, they are most lucrative for internet users. An unsecured wi-fi is a significant privacy threat. Also, they don’t offer a reliable connection and healthy speeds anyway.
Secured Wi-Fi is somewhat safer. The level of protection which they come with can depend on who is providing the service and what are the resources that they have committed to it. Universities, for instance, provide access to students only and after proper verification. They also monitor the data traffic regularly making these connections pretty safe. However, that doesn’t mean that you can use these connections without any precautions.
Risks of using a public wi-fi
There are numerous risks which come with using public Wi-Fi hotspots making it secured or unsecured. There are a lot of users connected to these networks especially if they are in places like cafes or coffee shops etc. This means that amongst all those people could be those who don’t have good intentions. Here are a few risks associated with public wi-fi hotspots:
- It might not be a legitimate connection at all: Yes, hackers have the knowledge to create fake hotspots which are not password protected to lure potential victims. As soon as a user connects to such a network, they become vulnerable data leaks or complete compromise of their systems etc. These connections have seemingly authentic names so it is easy to fall for the trick. Make sure you confirm the name of the connection from a staff member before connecting to any networks,
- Minimal security is another potential risk: The biggest issue with a public hotspot is that anyone can ask for the password and connect to it. Once on the network, all the devices on it can come under attack from a hacker sharing it with them. This can be done in a number of ways. Sometimes it might be done without being on the same network too but we’ll focus on this for now. A professional might use something called a man-in-the-middle attack to intercept your communications with the server. This way, they can make you think you are entering the page of a bank or university or hospital etc. but in reality, you are just going to a dummy page that they created and put there to trap you. Any information you enter is then visible to them and they can use it in whatever way they like.
Some do’s and don’ts of connecting to public networks
It is important to be careful when using public wi-fi hotspots and especially if you are using them to do any sensitive tasks. Although it is recommended to avoid such activities sometimes it becomes necessary and here are some measures for those instances:
- Access any accounts which you consider private. This may include social media or Google accounts,
- Bank accounts and online shopping websites should also be left out of a browsing session when using public wi-fi,
- Leave your phone or laptop unattended even for a little while. Physical data theft is also a nuisance in public places.
- Connect to password protected wi-fi connections where the authorization is given to specific people,
- Ensure that your Bluetooth is either turned off or not discoverable to everyone because, besides wi-fi, this is another source for malicious content coming into your device or laptop,
- Uncheck the box under the name of a connection where it says connects automatically or turn on the setting in your phone that says always asks to join networks. This makes sure that you don’t end up connecting to an open network without even knowing about it,
- Always use a VPN like Ivacy to protect yourself from all types of threats in the vicinity and on a broader scale.
Use a VPN to keep yourselves safe online
A VPN is one of the best defensive weapons available on the market today. What this program does is that it works as a deterrent, an antivirus and a comprehensive tool for anonymous browsing on the internet. The risks of information leak on a public wi-fi hotspot are high but it is not very low on home networks either. A VPN makes sure that your IP address is masked, making your location invisible to everyone except yourself. This means that even when you are on a public internet connection, all your data traffic will be encrypted so that no one else can spy on it and causes you harm.
Amongst the countless options available in the market today, Ivacy VPN is one of the most acknowledged and reliable ones. It provides some exciting features at a reasonable price. The service has more than 1000 servers across the world which you can connect to. The speeds are impressive and the data is protected using 256-bit encryption. It also comes with an internet kill-switch which will turn off the internet if a VPN shut down is detected. Using Ivacy VPN is the way to make sure that you stay out of harm’s way at all times.
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Published on April 24, 2019