7 Things You Need to Know Before Using a Public Wifi
Most of the time, public wi-fi hotspots are very convenient. What isn’t convenient is the fact that your information is prone to breaching and cyber-attacks. Public wi-fi is not bad per se; you just need to secure yourself before using it. Whether you’re chilling at the local cafe or waiting for your flight at the airport, it is always best to make sure you and your information are kept away from potential hackers.
Public Wi-Fi is prone to hackers
Much like scammers and other criminals roaming around in a crowded city, hackers do the same thing in a densely-populated public hotspot. As long as the hacker can breach into the public router, he has the ability to doxx you or even sell your information online. How do they do this? Through a tactic called MitM or Man in the Middle: where they can intercept connections between the public Wi-Fi router and the people connected to it.
You can detect any breach if your device has a spy software.
Public Wi-Fi is made for sharing...including information
Obviously, free public connections will share its internet speed with you. However, what you never knew is that your information is cached into its router too - specifically your IP address. Sometimes when you connect, you have the option to turn on Sharing; be it on your phone or laptop. Whichever the case, always keep this closed unless you are the admin of the server.
Hackers can make fake Wi-Fi hotspots
Disturbingly, hackers also have the ability to make fake public Wi-Fi connections. This is easily found in very crowded areas such as malls, parks, plazas, and airports. While the venue has a dedicated server, you may find multiple hotspots too. Of course, sometimes you can’t help but connect to any other server if the official public wi-fi doesn’t let you connect.
While there are other public hotspots in these areas without password requirement, you may never know which is legit and which is not. The next thing you know, someone already hacked into your personal information.
Public Wi-Fi is susceptible to viruses
Just like contracting illnesses in public places, your devices are also vulnerable to digital viruses. Malware, ransomware and phishing are abundant in public hotspots. Unless you have antivirus software, your devices are in danger of these things.
Prioritize HTTPS websites
See that padlock symbol right beside the URL? That’s when you know that the website is safe from any potential breaching. This also means these websites will protect your information whether you are using public or private connections.
Do stay away from unlocked padlock symbols and red lines on the URL - that obviously means the website is unsafe and is susceptible to information sharing.
Sensitive Information May Be Cached to the Public Wi-Fi Server
Tech pros will always tell you to never access sensitive personal information such as your bank account, your children’s personal data and basically anything that involves your financial management. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are never the most secured connections since most admins just set up shop and let it be, making it a playground for potential hackers and scammers.
VPN Will Always Keep You Safe
More than just making your IP address anonymous, using a VPN is always the most ideal way of surfing the web. This goes the same with public Wi-Fi. As long as you have a VPN, you can forget everything else on this list because your VPN app will make sure none of those happen to you. If you do ever come up with something fishy, your VPN will notify you immediately.
While there are a handful of free VPN apps, they don’t secure your connection entirely. I highly recommend getting a paid VPN.
Stay Safe on Public Hotspots
You will never know when a hacker has breached your device until it is too late. If you want my advice, I highly suggest sticking to your mobile data rather than accessing the public wi-fi unless you have a VPN activated. If you want the safest bet, just do your internet browsing at home with a trustworthy ISP.