The Insecurities of Public Wi-Fi and What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
You will agree with us that public Wi-Fi is free and very tempting to use! But before you connect your device to an open public network, here are some of the associated insecurities that you must know about:
- Man in the middle attack
This is one of the biggest insecurities of public Wi-Fi. What does this basically refer to? So, this is when the interaction between the two parties is intercepted. In the world of public Wi-Fi, this is when an agent intercepts a user’s request to reach a certain website and then sends back a fraudulent response.
This could be an illegitimate website that looks real. It leads to the user providing sensitive data to the wrong areas. This attack is very common with unsecured public Wi-Fi.
- Wi-Fi eavesdropping attack
This is another issue with public Wi-Fi networks. As the name suggests, this includes a hacker intercepting and eavesdropping on a particular user’s browsing activities.
How does it work? More often than not, in a public Wi-Fi space like a restaurant, there could be multiple networks with similar names. In this situation, there are high chances that one of them is fake. The user, unaware of this fraudulent activity, could sign up on the wrong network and have their information and online activity tracked by the hackers.
- Packet sniffing
This is a legitimate activity that is mostly used by IT professionals to intercept online data in an attempt to track internet traffic. This is done to conduct an elaborate analysis of different online issues.
However, a lot of hackers tend to misuse this technology and end up engaging in cybercrime. They do this in an attempt to collect sensitive data through the open network.
- Cookies theft
Cookies on the internet are a common concept. These are used by websites to collect necessary information from the user to store their login credentials. These are safe text files that do not contain any malware. However, these are often tampered by hackers. What they do is collect these cookies in the middle and collect your login credentials. This is common on public Wi-Fi networks, leading to important information being taken up by fraudulent hackers. Cookies theft could be dangerous on a public Wi-Fi network.
Protect Yourself in a Public Wi-Fi Network
- Ideally, it would be best to use password-protected Wi-Fi networks. These are safe and can be trusted. When it is absolutely necessary to use open public Wi-Fi, it is advisable to refrain from sharing sensitive information or engage in file sharing.
- Keeping your operating system and the antivirus software updated at all times could give you a layer of protection during fraudulent activities in open networks.
- If you have to share sensitive information, you could use a proper VPN or a virtual private network to maintain security. This works towards providing a certain level of security and privacy in these unsafe public Wi-Fi networks.