Most of the functions of our mobile phones are now tied to the internet. We need an internet connection to stream music, exchange messages with our loved ones, read up on research about term papers, among others. So, it’s only natural to connect to the WiFi at the café, library, airport, and other public places.
However, public WiFi isn’t the best connection option. It’s usually free, making it easier for scammers, hackers, and other cybercriminals to take advantage of it.
While hopping from one WiFi connection to another seems harmless, it exposes you to some internet risks. If you find this common practice relatable, then keep reading to find out how you can secure yourself in the process.
What are the dangers of using unsecured WiFi?
The unlimited availability of WiFi makes connecting to just anyone pretty normal. However, they’re not all safe, as they don’t have the security features of private internet services. It’s different from using a router that has been secured with a strong password, limiting unauthorized access.
In contrast, you can’t control the level of security a public WiFi has. When you’re using an unsecured public WiFi, your interactions won’t be secure if you log in to an unencrypted site. There are free online tools that hackers and other cybercriminals can use to hijack your session, log in as you, and even steal sensitive information.
Aside from exposing your personal information to everyone, the companies that provide the data may also be privy to your data when you connect to public WiFi.
Identity theft is an unfortunate phenomenon that has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars. It starts with the internet and connecting to an unsecured WiFi also puts you at risk of this occurrence.
When someone hijacks your internet session, they’re more inclined to try out passwords for your accounts and visit the websites that store financial information. More often than not, the data a scammer needs to steal an identity is easy to find, which is why connecting to an unsecured WiFi is a risk we should painstakingly avoid.
Identity theft entails stealing your login credentials, pictures, personal information, among others, and using it for financial gain. This may include opening bank accounts, taking loans, and creating a personality for further cybercrimes.
Data breaches happen too, and these aren’t necessarily for financial reasons. When an unsolicited entity gains access to your device through unsecured WiFi, they can steal your documents, pictures, videos, and other sensitive information you want to keep private.
Business cyber attacks
The business world isn’t spared too. Everyone uses a café, including business individuals. Checking emails, replying to official texts, setting appointments, and downloading files are all common activities that can be done with public WiFi. However, these are not safe.
You aren’t paying for the data, so you can’t pay for the security too. On the other hand, data services aren’t free, which means someone else is covering the cost. You can never be too cautious about whether or not your data is safe with them.
Packet Sniffing or eavesdropping
Finally, packet sniffing or eavesdropping occurs when some entities monitor the exchange of data on the internet. When you connect to an unsecured WiFi, you may be exposing yourself to this illegal act. It can result in information loss or modification. Moreover, perpetuating this crime is easy with access to the right tools.
How to stay safe using unsecured WiFi
Despite apparent ills, the internet is still an exciting place that we never want to leave. Just as cybercriminals use diverse methods to get the best of some of us, we can also incorporate several practices to stay as secure as possible. Some of them include:
Get a good VPN
One of the most reliable ways to fight internet insecurity is to get a good VPN. This will come in handy when you need to connect to the internet, mainly through public WiFi.
This technology changes your IP address to an untraceable one, making you much safer during your internet escapades. It also encrypts your information, so even when you visit an unprotected site with unsecured WiFi, you’ll be at no risk of a data breach.
Using a VPN isn’t enough. Ensure you choose one that’s strong enough to prevent unsolicited entry.
Stay away from sensitive information
When connecting to public WiFi, avoid visiting sites and apps that contain sensitive information. Pay particular attention to online banking, shopping, booking tickets, and other information that can be intercepted and used against you.
Through eavesdropping and packet sniffing, cybercriminals can mirror your internet activities, which may lead to identity theft. You shouldn’t entirely trust the security of most sites and apps you use. They have security flaws that cybercriminals can use to their advantage.
Use a Firewall
A firewall is another method of protecting yourself on an unsecured public WiFi. It scrutinizes traffic that interacts with your device and denies authorization for strange entities.
Turn on your firewall and VPN when connecting to a public WiFi to ensure maximum safety.
Since public WiFi is fair game, it’s also an avenue for injecting malware into unprotected devices. Installing anti-malware isn’t going to prevent data breaches, but it will protect your device from various malware.
Using public WiFi is a common practice that will not end soon. That’s understandable because of the easy access it gives us. However, these connection options aren’t always the safest, as they may be a hub for cybercriminals waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting users.
You’ll never know which public WiFi is secure and which isn’t, so find some of the safest options for protecting yourself on VPNSaver.