Public Wi-Fi Risks

Dangers of Wi-Fi hot spots

What you can do to protect yourself

Updated: August 26, 2019
By: RSH Web Editorial Staff
Wi-Fi

Drinking your coffee at the local coffee shop and have just logged on to the Wi-Fi with your laptop or mobile device to surf the web, But are you aware of how vulnerable you are when you’re at your favorite Wi-Fi hotspot?

A 7 year old girl hacked a Wi-Fi hotspot in a South London coffee shop in just 10 minutes and 54 seconds after watching a YouTube tutorial to showed how easy it is to hack unprotected public Wi-Fi hotspots by using information and techniques readily available on the Internet

Most all Wi-Fi networks that are for home and business uses are password protected and encrypted. However, most public Wi-Fi hotspots are set up strictly for convenience - Not security

Wi-Fi users are always at risk from hackers, but there are safeguards to protect against them. Since these free access points are available at restaurants, hotels, airports, bookstores, and even your local gas station, you are rarely more than a short trip away from access the World Wide Internet. But this freedom comes at a price, and most do not understand the risks associated with Public Wi-Fi. Learning how to protect yourself will ensure you and your important information remains safe

One of the biggest threats for free Wi-Fi is the ability for the hacker to position himself between you and the connection point. So instead of talking directly with the hotspot, you're sending your information to the hacker, who then relays it on. The hacker now has access to all the information such as important emails, credit card information and even security credentials to your business network. Once the hacker has that he can access your systems as if he were you

Hackers will also use unsecured Wi-Fi's to distribute malware. If you have enabled "file-sharing" across your network, the hacker can then plant infected software called Phishing on your computer and on your network. Many hackers have even hacked the "connection point" directly, causing a "pop-up" window to appear during the connection process. Sometimes these Pop-Ups will offer an upgrade to a piece of popular software. Clicking this then installs the malware

Mobile Wi-Fi is no doubt becoming the most common form of Internet access and because of this you can expect Internet security issues and public Wi-Fi risks to also grow. Do not let this scare you into going back to your Desk Top computer, the vast majority of hackers are simply going after the easiest targets, and taking a few precautions will help to keep your information safe

Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection should be a priority when connecting to your business through an unsecured connection such as a public Wi-Fi. This way if a hacker manages to gain access in between you and your connection, the data here will be Strongly Encrypted. And since most all hackers would rather go after an easy target than put it through a lengthy decryption process. Also see "Should I use a VPN while traveling
The only VPN that RSH Web Services trust, use and would recommend is NordVPN

Use SSL Connections

You may not always have a VPN available for general Internet browsing, Enable the "Always Use HTTPS" option on websites that you visit frequently add a layer of encryption to your communication
Enable "Always use https" setting in GMail
Force Google Chrome to always use HTTPS
SSL Enforcer - Force SSL/TLS encryption for any browser or app
Hackers understand how people use and most times reuse their passwords, So that the user-name and password you use for some random website may just be the same one you use for your Bank or Corporate Network, and using these credentials could open that door to a smart hacker

Turn Off "Sharing"

When connecting to the Internet at a public place, you are probably not going to share anything. You can turn off sharing from within the system preferences or Control Panel, depending on your OS
Turn Off Network Sharing on Windows
Turn Network Sharing on or off in Windows 8
Turn off file sharing on Windows7
Leave Family Sharing - Apple Support

Keep Wi-Fi Off When Your not using it

The Wi-Fi hardware in your computer is still transmitting data between any network within range when it is "On". There are security measures in place to prevent this type of communication from compromising you, but keep in mind not all wireless routers are the same. As a general rule you should keep your Wi-Fi turned off when not being used. And you will probably have a much longer battery life

Always Stay Protected

Even those who will take all the possible public Wi-Fi security precautions will come across issues. It is just a fact of life. That is why it is so important to keep a up-to-date Internet Security Solution installed and running. The top consumer security software will also offer business protection solutions, so you can protect yourself and your business at the same time

There will be a time when an unsecured, free, public Wi-Fi is the only connection available, But understanding the risks of public Wi-Fi will help you to ensure that you and your information will not become just another hacking statistic

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