Internet connections are available easily for private use in homes. Thanks to the whole world being connected by the internet, they are also just as common in public places. These are known as Wi-Fi hotspots. Here’s why it’s important to stay connected yet remain secure in public hotspots.
What is a Wi-Fi hotspot?
A Wi-Fi hot spot is usually a public place for a user to connect to the internet. Like how you access the internet from your home through a wireless router, a hotspot allows individuals to access the internet, through a password. Wi-Fi hotspots are available in various places like coffee shops, libraries, and other public places.
Who can use a Wi-Fi hotspot?
Anyone with a Wi-Fi-enabled device can use them. Be it college students, businessmen or professionals, you can use Wi-Fi hotspots to reduce the data usage on their cell phone plan.
Can we use Public Wi-Fi? Is it safe?
Since public Wi-Fi is accessed by multiple people, there are many potential security threats. he connection between users and the access point is sometimes not encrypted. Hence hackers or malicious users can stage attacks. A public hotspot is therefore not as safe as a private one. Since in a private hotspot, you can control who connects to the hotspot. Poor public Wi-Fi security allows the attacker to capture all traffic, thus enabling them to steal your personal information, credit card information and all other personal details.
Security issues with public Wi-Fi
With Public access points or Public Wi-Fi, anyone within the area can read data that is not addressed to them. Here are some of the common ways you can be tracked by malicious users with a hotspot.
Third-Party Data Gathering– Despite the absence of active hackers, your privacy isn’t guaranteed when you access a public hotspot. Many establishments that offer free Wi-Fi are often themselves the culprit.
Network Sniffing – To steal your personal information all an attacker need is a “sniffing” application that intercepts and gathers all visible traffic on a channel. It is mainly used to identify potential customers and also track the site a user visits for marketing purposes. This is an intrusive practice followed by many offering public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Malicious Access Points – Often there are multiple networks to choose from, and you may guess which hotspot belongs to a specific venue. Some users tend to connect to a completely unknown network just because they find it unlocked. This poses a threat of being manipulated by an attacker.
Evil Twin attack – In this tactic called “Evil Twin Attack,”, the attacker leverages a fake access point to hack your data. This often happens in public parks and other unmonitored areas.
How to stay safe on public Wi-Fi?
- There is always a certain amount of risk when you connect to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, you need to take some precautions to stay safe.
- When you are connecting to a Wi-Fi network, ask the owner or staff the right access point to connect. Check out the venue’s Terms of Service carefully to ensure that your privacy will not be breached.
- Always use public Wi-Fi which does not require login credentials. However, if you need to enter login credentials remember, you should go to websites that start with HTTPS.
- You should never install any software when you are in public Wi-Fi. This may allow viruses to enter your device.
One of the best ways to ensure security when accessing public Wi-Fi is to use a VPN. A VPN gives you anonymity and privacy creating a tunnel between your device and a third-party server. The data from your device that passes through this tunnel is encrypted. It is therefore hidden from any malicious attacks and also from the public Wi-Fi provider. You should avail of the services of a trusted VPN that uses Open SSL or IPSec.
Is it safe if we use VPN and public Wi-Fi?
While public Wi-Fi increases the risk of virus attacks, malicious attackers stealing sensitive data and various other attacks, the best way to beat all of them are using a VPN. The most important thing you can do every time you connect is to use a VPN. A VPN encrypts your Internet connection to secure it and protect your privacy. When connecting with a VPN, no one can see the information you send over the network. A VPN service offers good encryption and online activities are routed through a secure and encrypted tunnel to the VPN service’s server. When using Wi-Fi with a VPN, your privacy and security are protected at all times.