A public Wi-Fi network brings about a lot of convenience to you as a user who works remotely, travels often, or needs to check emails and social media platforms frequently.
However, public Wi-Fi is maligned as a dangerous internet vertical where your details or information using this network are at risk.
There are many security concerns, including spyware and harmful websites that trick you and steal your details and passcodes and install malicious software into your device.
Hence, it is advised to use your home Wi-Fi network as it is more secure than public networks. For instance, suppose, you reside in Delhi, then you must avoid using public WI-FI in this city.
Instead, you must search for a good WI-FI connection in Delhi and install it to use the same from the comfort of your home and stay stress-free because the private WI-Fi setup at home is safe and secure. Likewise, if you live in Mumbai, you must opt for one of the best Wi-Fi plans in Mumbai.
No Wi-Fi connection is completely risk-free, but the safety of personal information depends substantially on the type of Wi-Fi you are using.
Your home Wi-Fi network is not a public network and hence is safe and secure. However, the free public WI-FI that you may encounter at various places like doctor’s offices, airports, coffee shops and various public spaces has another story to it.
Generally, the business shares its WIFI passcode so that you can input it and use it. However, before this, you may require creating an account before accessing this public internet, which is considered secure in nature.
While all you require doing is signing in after ticking on the agreement, sometimes you may not require doing anything.
You must consider this as a red flag as the network that you are using in such a case may be unsecured in nature.
So, continue to read and understand what the risk is when you log into a public WIFI network and the measures you must take to avoid the risks.
Is a public WIFI safe?
The earlier danger of connecting to a WI-FI network disappeared to a great extent when sites became HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure) encrypted.
When any URL contains HTTPS, any info or data sent over the internet is scrambled or converted into meaningless strings of numbers and letters that are difficult to be decoded.
Previously, this was not the scenario and hackers could steal your passcodes when you logged into sites, snoop on online activity or inject their content on the site you visited.
However, by the year 2016, nearly half of the sites became HTTPS encrypted. Today, nearly 99 per cent of browsing time spent on Google Chrome is on sites with HTTPS addresses.
Still, this does not infer that public WIFI network is thoroughly safe. We cannot 100 per cent say, ‘if your electronic devices are encrypted, and you are visiting sites that are encrypted, then you are free or safe from hackers online’.
In this race to steal your personal info and data, most hackers tend to develop new ways and strategies. And if you are using an unsecured and open WIFI network, all the bets are off. Thus, it is your responsibility as a user to stay vigilant and protect your data.
Why is it not recommended to use a public WIFI network?
Public WI-FI networks may expose you to potential high-security risks, especially on websites where you become the product.
With anything that you freely use, such as Google or Facebook, note that you are the product itself and certainly not the customer.
These sites are basically selling your personal details and information to the brands they have tied up with or in connection with.
Thus, it is securely not recommended to use public WI-FI. In the worst scenario, the stolen data could be used in the case of identity theft or extortion. Other less adverse consequences of making use of public WI-FI without proper precaution are –
A hotspot is a location where you can easily access the internet network, such as a restaurant, airport, or university. Note that malicious hotspots might appear legitimate.
However, they are fake. A lot of time, cybercriminals may still steal your passcodes, install the software and snoop on a computer because you have connected to a WI-FI network that isn’t legitimate.
When you, as a user, connect to any fake WI-FI or hotspot, then you are basically endowing the hackers with an invitation into your device.
This basically opens the door to what is called a middleman attack. This work like this – when you connect to a particular site, say your bank site, the malicious hotspot may redirect you to enter a site that appears just like your bank but may not be secure.
When you input your passcode, email address, credit card details and various other sensitive details, hackers steal those. It is generally performed seamlessly that you may not realise it is happening till it becomes very late.
Attack of the evil twin
Like the middleman attack, an evil twin attack may take place when evil players set up a site with the name same as what you use. The aim here is to trick you or conduct phishing attacks into divulging your personal info.
How can you keep your info secure when using a public WI-FI network?
While there are various drawbacks to using a public WI-FI network, the good news is you do not require giving up on the use of public WI-FI totally. Suggested here are some important ways of keeping your info as secure as possible while browsing.
One of the prudent ways of keeping your data or info secure on public WI-FI is to use VPN (Virtual Private Network).
VPN creates an encrypted and secure network between your internet network and device. This protects your data thoroughly by encrypting the same so that malicious players or evil twins or middleman attackers, etc., cannot view what work you are performing online.
Most businesses often tend to install VPNs on their devices for their employees if they prefer working at home or outside.
In case you require to install a VPN for personal use, then you may consider opting for NordVPN, Astrill VPN or ExpressVPN.
So, suppose you are a Delhiite, and for some reason or the other, your home WI-FI connection in Delhi is not working; then, in this case, you may consider using public WIFI, and to keep your data secure, you must consider installing a VPN. In case you are unable to do so, then restrict using public WI-FI.
Check the security of the site.
You can connect to any site over a public WI-FI network; however, before this, ensure that it is a secure network before you input your private details.
To determine the security of the website, look for the “HTTPS” in the site’s address. In case it is “HTTP”, avoid proceeding. The thumb rule here is never to browse any HTTP site on an open public WI-FI network.
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