Public Wi-Fi is an amenity we have all begun to depend on whether we are at the mall, an airport, a restaurant, a hotel or even our favorite coffee shop. It allows us to connect to the internet in order to communicate, get work done or do any number of tasks that require a network connection. It may sound harmless to log on using public Wi-Fi to quickly check your email, bank statements or catch up on your social media. Unfortunately, using public Wi-Fi, while convenient, is also a bit risky. Even before the most recent attack on Wi-Fi called Krack (see last month's blog post for more information), these networks have long used lax or nonexistent security protocols in order to provide the service of free Wi-Fi to travelers, business people and your average internet user. Let’s take a closer look at the risks associated with using public Wi-Fi.
Man-In-the-Middle Attack - This threat is probably the most common when it comes to using public Wi-Fi. A hacker can position himself between you and the connection point. So instead of talking directly with the hotspot, you're sending your information to the hacker. This means that a hacker has unfettered access to your data.
Distributing Malware - While using public hotspots a hacker can easily plant infected software on your computer.
Snooping and Sniffing - This threat involves exactly what it sounds like: a cyber criminal gaining access to anything and everything you are doing online including logins to various sites, input of credit cards, and information you have filled out on websites.
What Can you Do to Protect Yourself?
Don’t use public Wi-Fi to shop online, log in to your financial institution, or access other sensitive sites ever.
Logout of sites immediately after finishing.
Use a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, to create a network-within-a-network, keeping everything you do encrypted.
Implement two-factor authentication when logging into sensitive sites, so even if malicious individuals have the passwords to your bank, social media, or email, they won’t be able to log in.
Only visit websites with HTTPS encryption when in public places, as opposed to lesser-protected HTTP addresses. Check the address at the top of the page for this.
Turn off the automatic Wi-Fi connectivity feature on your phone, so it won’t automatically seek out hotspots while you are visiting places that commonly offer it.
Don’t leave on your Bluetooth connection when in public places.
Disable File Sharing.
Buy an unlimited data plan for your device and stop using public Wi-Fi altogether
If you have questions about the security of public hotspots please call Spectra Networks at 978.219.9752 or visit our website at Spectra Networks.