You can find public Wi-Fi unlikeliest of places. Visit a public library, coffee shop, train station, or retail outlet, and you will see it is easy to log on to the internet from anywhere – but should you?
Public Wi-Fi is convenient, but the risks! In addition to convenience, public Wi-Fi networks typically require no login or password, making it easy for hackers to access unprotected devices on the local network. So what are the risks you take when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network?
When you access the internet via Wi-Fi, your device establishes a link with the router or server connecting you to the internet. But when a hacker positions himself between you and the connection point, he becomes a man in the middle (MitM). So instead of communicating directly with the intended parties, you are sending your data to the attacker, who then relays it on.
Attackers use special software like spyware and adware to steal your passwords and credit card information. They can make purchases, withdraw money, and even apply for loans in your name.
Your home Wi-Fi connection will always be vulnerable if it is not secured. The hackers can infect your devices with malware by sending fake pop-up requests that look just like real ones, except they are faked and will not help you update any software. They can also hack into the connection point itself and send you fake pop-ups requesting you to update your software by clicking it. Once you click it, your device gets infected by malware, and all of your sensitive information, files, and even network connections can be deleted or disabled forever.
Hackers will sometimes read your browsing history. If you’re unlucky, they may steal your login details and use them to access information stored on your computer. Bad actors may also use special software to capture data packets flowing between networked computers. That way, they can capture the data sent across the network and use it for evil purposes.
For hackers to trick unwary internet users, cybercriminals set up Wi-Fi hotspots that look and sound like the real deal but are modified to steal your data.
Sometimes, hackers go through your browsing history. If you’re unlucky, they may steal your login details and use that information to log into other parts of your computer. Using special software, they can capture data packets sent across the network — one packet might be all it takes for them to get your password or IP address.
When you use an unencrypted public Wi-Fi network, anything you do online is visible to hackers and other attackers. They can access your messages, emails, banking details, and other significant services. Fortunately, there are ways of protecting your devices and the information they hold from these public Wi-Fi risks.