Public WiFi is easily accessible in larger cities at airports, restaurants, coffee shops, hotel rooms, libraries, etc. Public WiFi enables you to keep in touch or catch up with work from wherever you happen to be, but connecting to a public WiFi isn’t as safe and secure as it is with your home network.
A public Wi-Fi network is inherently less secure than your personal one, because you don’t know who set it up or who else is connecting to it. Here are two prime reasons that make public WiFi susceptible to attack – Older standards of encryption protocol used by some wireless networks and risk of joining a rogue WiFi hotspot. Weak and old standards of encryption can cause security problems, and attempting to join a rogue network may unleash Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks on victims.
Connecting to a public WiFi can put you and your device at risk. Here’s how to minimize the damage:
1) Be careful what you access
Whenever you’re connected to a public WiFi, never access sensitive or private information, such as bank account details, paying bills, confidential work documents, etc.
2) Use a VPN
Always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN creates a private network for you where you can easily access confidential work documents or pay bills on public WiFi. There are many trusted VPN services available online, but you may have to shell out some money to use a good service. Make sure to choose from a reputable security provider.
3) Stick with HTTPS
Only browse websites that start with HTTPS and avoid browsing sites starting with HTTP. HTTPS websites are encrypted and make browsing secure by adding an extra layer of security. Browsing an HTTP site on public WiFi may make your traffic visible to hackers who are snooping around in the network.
4) Adjust your settings
Configure the wireless settings on your devices to not automatically connect to an open WiFi in public places. This might save you from unknowingly connecting to a public WiFi. You can do this by turning off the “Connect Automatically” feature on your laptops or mobile devices so they don’t auto-connect to public WiFi.
5) Remember to Logout
As soon as you’re done browsing and using a public network, be sure to logout of any services that you were using. Also, “forget the network” from your WiFi settings so that it doesn’t automatically reconnect to that network if you’re within the range without your permission.
In the next few years, public Wi-Fi will have more built-in protections. Until then, many security exploits rely on old and outdated software, so make sure you’re running all the latest software updates on your devices before going out. Also, don’t download or install anything new over public Wi-Fi unless you are connected to a secure network.
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