It's no secret that Public Wi-Fi isn't too secure - but why isn't it? What makes it unsecure? If it has a login function, so surely it would be safe enough to use without worry?
These hotspots are so widespread and common that people frequently connect to them without thinking twice. Although it sounds harmless to log on and check your social media account or browse some news articles, everyday activities that require a login (reading e-mail or checking your bank account) could be risky on public Wi-Fi.
The problem with public Wi-Fi is that there are a tremendous number of risks that go along with these networks. While business owners may believe they’re providing a valuable service to their customers, chances are the security on these networks is minimal, if any.
So what risks are there?
One of the most common threats on these types of networks is something called a 'Man in the Middle' (MitM) attack. Essentially, when you connect to the internet, the connection goes from Point A (your device) to Point B (the internet - whatever service/site you're on). However, MitM attacks show the connection as Point A (your device) through Point B (MitM) and onto Point C (the internet). With this, the hacker can effectively see everything your browsing and typing etc.
Another type of threat you may face is the nature of an unencrypted network. Basically, an encryption means that any data sent from your device is hidden in a code, so it can't be read. Of course, there are ways around this, but let's focus on becoming more secure - not 100% secure. Encryption is usually turned off by default, and enables once set up. However, with Public WiFi, it's very difficult to tell if this has been done - especially when the WiFi doesn't require a password to access it (Starbucks comes to mind).
There really are several threats that we have to be aware of when using Public WiFi but we simply don't have the time to cover them all. However, we do have time to tell you how to stay safe when using it. So here's a list of do's and don'ts.
Only visit sites using https:// - We've got a handy tip to explain this.
Log out of accounts when done using them
Use a VPN to make sure your public Wi-Fi connections are made private
Allow your Wi-Fi to auto-connect to networks
Log into any account via an app that contains sensitive information. Go to the website instead and verify it uses https:// before logging in
Leave your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on if you are not using them
Access websites that hold your sensitive information, such as such as banking.
Log onto a network that isn’t password protected (yep, Starbucks isn't secure. Who knew.)
That's just about it for this one. Public WiFi is just one threat in your digital life. But really, it's common sense. Don't use a very public service for private matters such as banking etc. Wait until you get home. Most of Cyber Security is common sense, so do your part and stay secure simply.