As more businesses want to satisfy their customers, they have started installing WiFi router in their offices or cafes. Thus, finding a public hotspot is very easier nowadays. There are more than 400 million active hotspots available in the world. Thanks to these free Wi-Fi networks, you can do your work from the library, café or even from airports. Also, you can save your mobile data by using these Free Wi-Fi networks. But, there are a lot of security issues with open free Wi-Fi networks.
Most people don’t realize that these Public Wifi networks are not secure. Even if they are password protected, that doesn’t mean that you are secured. Your data can be stolen by hackers who are using that Wifi network. You must pay extra attention to your computer security while using these Public Wifi Networks. First, let’s understand how these hackers can steal your data.
How Hackers use Public Wi-Fi networks to steal your data
There are mainly two types of attack which hackers use to steal your data. They can get access to your personal information and steal important data from your computer.
Hackers on the Same Wi-Fi Network.
A hacker primary aim is to get connected to Wifi networks where multiple users are working. Thus, Public Wi-fi networks are perfect targets for them. Most people connected in these Wi-fi networks don’t know how to secure their networks. Hence, they are an easy target for hackers. They can use various techniques to take control of all the communication and data of the network. After that, they can either use that data or sell that data to other hackers.
The most common tactic which hackers use to intercept data of WiFi networks is Man in the Middle attack. They use this technique to intercept all the communications which are happening between the client (user) and the public Wi-Fi network. Thus, they can capture all the outgoing and incoming data.
They can also send you malware files over the network. Many people have File sharing enabled on public networks. Hence, they are allowing the hackers to send these malware files directly to their computer.
Hackers who create their own fake Wi-Fi hotspot.
This is another trick which hackers are using to fool normal users. They set up a fake Wi-fi hotspot network near some business location. If you connect to such networks, then hackers can steal all your important information. They will get access to your financial credentials and social accounts. Also, they can access your files if the file sharing option is enabled.
Sometimes they send a fake warning of an application update in your computer. You will think that you are upgrading your application. But, in reality, you are installing malware in your system. They can use these malware applications to steal your sensitive information in real-time. Even your credit card details can be stolen using these malware. If they have sent some ransomware, then your system will get locked. You need to pay some amount of money to get your files back.
These were two tactics which hackers use to steal other user’s data. But, there are some methods which you can employ to stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks. It will become very difficult for any hacker to steal your important information.
5 Tips for safely using Public Wi-Fi networks.
There is no reason for you to completely avoid public WiFi networks. But, you must ensure that you’re protected when you are using them. There are some useful techniques and tips which you can follow to protect yourself from hackers.
Verify the Network before connecting.
First, you must verify all the available networks. You can ask an employee about the networks which are available. Only connect to those Wi-Fi networks which are owned by the business. As we have already talked before, hackers can set up fake Wi-Fi networks to steal your information. Thus, it is important to verify the name of WiFi networks before connecting to them.
Turn off file sharing option.
As we have already discussed before, hackers can send you malware if file-sharing is turned on. Thus, you must turn off the file sharing option if it is not needed. You can go to the control panel of your computer to turn off the file sharing option.
Use Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A Virtual Private Network or VPN is the most secure option to protect your data on public networks. It is the most useful tool which you can use to hide your identity online.
A VPN encrypts all the data packets which are sent from your computer. Thus, it will become impossible for hackers to get your important data and files. The VPN also acts as a tunnel between your browser and the server. All the data and information which is passing through the tunnel can’t be intercepted by the hackers.
Another benefit of using these VPNs is that they will hide your IP address. Thus, all the geographical restrictions will be removed. You can also access all the websites which are blocked on the public Wi-Fi network.
There are many free VPN services available on the market. You can use free VPN services for limited usage. If you want to upgrade, then there are many paid VPNs available in the market.
Don’t forget to enable your Firewall.
Many people turn off their computer’s firewall. Turning off the firewall will make you vulnerable to hacker’s attacks. A firewall can’t provide you complete protection from hacker attacks, but still, it will act as a security layer.
A firewall has the ability to check all the data packets which are coming in your computer. Thus, all the malicious data packets will automatically get blocked by the firewall. By blocking these malicious data, the firewall will protect your computer from virus and malware attacks.
If you want to enable the firewall then follow below steps:
- Open control panel on your computer.
- Go to the “Security” section.
- Now, click on “Windows Firewall” and enable it.
If you are using Mac, then you can enable the Firewall by going into “System Preferences”. After that, head towards “Security and Privacy” and you will find the “Firewall” option there.
Visit safe websites
When you’re using public WiFi networks, make sure that you are only visiting sites which are having encrypted connections. An encrypted connection is more secure when compared with an unencrypted connection. Thus, it will become difficult for hackers to steal your data.
One easy trick to check if you are visiting an encrypted site is by checking the website URL. If it has HTTPS at the beginning, then the site is encrypted. Thus, it is very safe to visit that website. It will become very hard for hackers to tamper your data.
Digital security is very important in the internet age. The numbers of hackers are increasing every day. Thus, you must pay extra attention when you are connecting with a public Wi-Fi network. We need to understand the risks of using public Wi-Fi networks. You can also tell your family members and other loved ones about the risks which are associated with public Wi-Fi networks. Thus, they won’t become a victim of data theft. Also, you can use all the tips which we have shared to protect yourself from hackers.