The Dangers Of Using Public WiFi

Do You Know The Risks Of Using Public WiFi?

Finding a free WiFi connection in a public space can feel like a lifesaver when you are on the go. But are you aware of the dangers that might be lurking in the background of public WiFi?

Public WiFiWhat is public WiFi?

You can find a WiFi connection in the majority of public places, whether that be in a coffee shop, an airport, a shopping centre, a restaurant or a hotel. These “Hotspots” are so widespread and common that it only takes a few clicks until you’re connected to the internet and scrolling through your Instagram feed. Although it feels harmless when you are checking your emails or your online banking when you are grabbing a coffee, it could actually be risky business if you are connected to public WiFi.

Cyber-attacks can take many forms

In 2017, 73% of adults accessed the internet whilst “on the go” by using their mobile phone or smartphone. This is more than double the amount of people in 2011 when only 36% of adults accessed the internet through a public WiFi. This statistic shows the rapid rise of public WiFi usage in the UK.

Man-in-the-Middle attacks

One of the most common threats to public WiFi is called the Man-in-the-Middle attack (MitM attack). This attack strikes the moment a computer makes a connection to the internet. Once the connection has been made, data will be sent from one point (your device) to the next point (service/website), and vulnerabilities can allow hackers to get in the middle of these transmissions and read your “private” data.

Unencrypted networks

Encryption basically means that a set data will take the form of a secret code to travel between a computer and a wireless router to ensure that it isn’t read by anyone that doesn’t have the key to decipher the code. When a router is shipped from a factory, the encryption will be turned off and in order for the network to work the encryption must be turned on. If an IT professional sets up your network, then chances are good that the encryption will be enabled. Nevertheless, there isn’t a sure-fire way to make sure this has happened.

Malicious hotspots

Have you ever been into the WiFi section of your phone and seen a number of WiFi networks with similar names? This could be because Cyber criminals have set up a network with a “reputable” name in order to tick you into connecting to their rogue hotspot. Once you are connected to their network the hackers would potentially be able to view all of your sensitive information without you even knowing. For example, if you were staying in a hotel the hackers might try create a rouge network that has the same name as the hotel in order to try trick you into thinking it is a safe network to connect to.

How to stay safe when using public WiFi

Don’t:

  • Allow your phone to automatically connect to networks
  • Leave your WiFi or Bluetooth on when you are not using them
  • Log into a network that doesn’t have password protection
  • Use an app that contains sensitive information, instead use a website with HTTPS before logging in.

Do:

  • Log out of accounts once you’ve finished using them
  • Only visit websites using HTTPS
  • Use a VPN to make sure your public network connections are made private.

For more information contact a member of our team today!