How to Prevent Public Wi-Fi Attacks

wi-fi security attacks

How to Prevent Public Wi-Fi Attacks?

Free Wi-Fi is available everywhere these days. From airports to restaurants, libraries and even in public transport, free Wi-Fi is available to facilitate the people. Smartphones give off a notification as soon as they detect a free Wi-Fi. This notification is tempting and according to an estimate, the majority of people connect or try to connect to this free network.

Most of the people are unaware of the risks a free Wi-Fi network brings with itself. According to a survey, about 68% of the total public Wi-Fi users fell victim to data theft or some other form of cybercrime due to the absence of enough security equipment. Connecting to the public Wi-Fi in order to do a Google search or watch a live match is not very risky. However, background data can still be received by someone aimed at stealing information. The main precaution that needs to be taken while connected to a public Wi-Fi network is avoiding to share sensitive data or to do private transactions. Other than this basic preventive measure, there are a lot of other steps required to increase security.

Security of a Public Wi-Fi

Online activities of a public Wi-Fi user are not secure even if the network asks for a log-in password. There are a lot of reasons that make public Wi-Fi weak and prone to cybercrimes. In 2017 as per BBC report Star Bucks Cafe was made public wifi computers to mine cryptocurrency. One issue is linked with the encryption protocol while another with the joining of a rogue Wi-Fi Hotspot.

The strength of a public Wi-Fi network can be assessed by a Security Audit. The majority of the public Wi-Fi networks are old and obsolete. These networks are sensitive and easier for hackers to access users and their digital information. 

Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) was the first encryption system for Wi-Fi networks. However, it was found to be weak and susceptible to a cyberattack. A revised version of WEP was Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) which had more security than WEP but was found to have weaknesses.

In the case of joining a rogue Wi-Fi hotspot while using public Wi-Fi, the risks are different. On this network, the cyber-attackers can even intercept the communication by reading, inserting and modifying information.

Measures Taken to Stay Protected on Public Wi-Fi

While the risk and weaknesses of using public Wi-Fi are huge, there are some preventive measures that can be taken in order to stay secure. Following are some of the precautions that can be taken:

1.      Sensitive Web Browsing should never be done on a public Wi-Fi network. For instance, providing credit card info to pay a bill has a high risk and should never be done.

2.      The use of a VPN can come in handy while using a public Wi-Fi network. VPN creates a private network which adds a layer of security to the connection.

3.      Websites that start with HTTP should be avoided. On the contrary, websites that start with HTTPS are encrypted and provide secure access to the user.

4.      An extension such as HTTPS-Everywhere can also be installed which offers encrypted Wi-Fi surfing.

5.     It is also important to make sure that a device doesn’t automatically connect to all available Wi-Fi networks. This can be done by selecting suitable settings on the smartphone.

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