Hotels, cafes, airports, the free public wifi instantly grants you an access for browsing sites, checking your flight details and checking your social media. But you might have already heard about hackers stealing information from users connected to an open public WIFI. While some cafes and businesses have additional protection through passwords, open public wifi is there to offer you convenience, but not necessarily security. When you connect to an unprotected hotspot, it is only right to assume that all your messages and other exchanges and downloads can be seen by other parties. That includes personal information from bank details, emails and passwords. And because everything can now be learned on YouTube, even kids can learn how to hack a public WIFI within a few hours. Just imagine if kids can learn this in a few hours, what kind of possibilities the professionals have when there sole intent is to steal your information or your identity?
Information Capture and Interception
Exchanging information through apps or website that are not encrypted can easily expose you to risks of getting hacked. It is relatively easy for hackers to capture these messages, by first getting your log in information and passwords which will give them full access to your accounts. If they can monitor messages from A to B and has the possibility to alter them, it will be a disaster. For example, if they change the address where your delivery should be sent will lead for you to loose the package and the money you paid for it.
In order to protect yourself from these tricks, ensure to use apps that fully encrypt your messages.
Gaining access to your files
Unprotected hotspots can be quite dangerous when your file sharing is turned on. This means anyone on the network can access your computer and play around with your files- either by copying them from your hard drive or adding some files that can take over your computer.
Hackers may create fake access point to lure you in and get access to all your data. It can use names of usual brands such as ‘Starbucks Wi-fi’ and from there, collect as much data as they can. Some can intercept messages, making you think you are talking to a legit party like Amazon.
So how can we avoid these horrible situations?
- Find out the name of the true hotspot from the employees. Normally, it would be on your receipt or on the board with a security key or password (Or simply ask the staff).
- To encrypt connection, invest on a good VPN so you can protect the data traffic on your network.
- Enable your computer’s firewall and anti-virus to protect your device from malwares.
- Keep your WIFI turned off when not in use. Also check if your “sharing” is turned off.
- Activate your HTTPS Encryption for all websites to make browsing secure. HTTPS Everywhere extension is available for Firefox, Chrome and Opera browser.
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