Who doesn’t love free deals? Well, there can be nothing better than using public Wi-Fi as you don’t need to pay a penny while browsing the web. Thus, it is perfect when you are on the move and want to preserve your cellular data.
However, have you heard the phrase that nothing in life comes free? While this rule is not always correct, free Wi-Fi, sadly, is not an exception. Despite offering users free internet connection, these hotspots lack in other areas. The most significant of all is security, meaning that your activities could be monitored. For one, network managers are the ones that could be watching over your shoulder as you browse. In other cases, random bystanders can use special tools to monitor your actions as well.
There’s always a risk of your data being stolen by third parties when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network. Hackers can steal sensitive data by coming in between users connecting to the Wi-Fi and the point of connection. The data between the user and the connection point is intercepted by hackers using techniques like network eavesdropping. It puts the attacker in total control over the entire communication.
Exposing Yourself to Other Malicious Users
Suppose you are engaged in some urgent work at the local department store. There may be another user at the store using the same Wi-Fi network. You put your device at risk of being infected through what we call worms. They are viruses traveling between devices. Worms are capable of not just deleting files but modifying them as well. It is one more reason why you should avoid using public Wi-Fi as much as you can.
Hackers could use a cloned site to divert your internet traffic to it. It is a dangerous hacking technique called DNS spoofing, and it can trick you by making you log into a site that looks legitimate. You end up disclosing your login credentials to an attacker willingly in the belief that you are sharing them with the genuine website.
Modifications on a Website
Another common hacking trick is to make minor modifications on a website, changing a few words or pictures. It might appear only a slight inconvenience to you, but it’s far more dangerous than you assume. By adopting this method, a criminal may load child pornography on your device: a heinous crime. These activities create a print that results in you receiving notifications for a better experience from nefarious websites, leaving you vulnerable to criminal activity.
Have you ever noticed two networks going by the same name? Well, one of them might be an evil twin. These threats relate to Wi-Fi hotspots set up by perpetrators. They make the network seem legitimate in the hopes of making users connect to it. Doing so is very risky since hackers are the ones operating the network. It means that everything you do while connected to the rogue network will be visible to malicious individuals.
Free Wi-Fi Lacks Encryption
Free Wi-Fi networks at places like your local coffee shop don’t offer cutting-edge encryption technology. It leaves the connection vulnerable to attacks like man-in-the-middle. Therefore, while your friendly neighborhood coffee shop may have no deliberate ill-intentions, it may still put you in danger.
One effective way to protect yourself from the risks of using free public Wi-Fi is to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Installing a VPN gives you much-needed online protection by obscuring your online identity. It’s because a VPN hides your IP address every time you are online, making it impossible for cybercriminals to track you. However, the most significant factor here is that a VPN encrypts the connection between your device and the internet. Thus, it adds encryption to free Wi-Fi networks, making them safer to use.
Of course, while we ask you to avoid using public Wi-Fi, there are occasions when you have no other options. You need to be careful about the risks involved. We have made you aware of the risks involved so you can better protect yourself. Using a Virtual Private Network is an effective way to enhance your protection when using public Wi-Fi. So, stay cautious and ensure that your data is always protected from malicious individuals.
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