Forgot Password?

Our phones (and computers) have become an integral part of our lives. Whether we need information, to pay a bill or to keep in touch with loved ones, we use our devices and the internet. We are almost conditioned to look for a WiFi network whenever we’re out and about. WiFi can be very helpful as it can save your data, but it can also be a major pitfall. Criminals can use these networks to steal your information. Stay safe on public WiFi networks using the tips below. 

The Risks Of Public WiFi

If you’re out and about and you pull up your phone to search for a WiFi network, chances are you will see a few options. No matter where you are, you can almost always find a WiFi connection. Convenient, yes. More chances to become a victim of identity theft, also yes. 

Public WiFi can be dangerous specifically because it is public. Everyone who is connected to a WiFi network is sending their information through the same, shared space. As a user, you would never know this and it would never be an issue. However, there are many ways that criminals can intercept information from point A to point B. This is completely different from your home WiFi which should be password protected. Here are a few specific examples of how you could become a victim.

  • MITM Attacks – Man-in-the-middle or MITM attacks are the most common way for thieves to steal your information over WiFi. The way it works is that a hacker will insert their device between point A (you) and point B (where you are sending information). In the short time your information is traveling from point A to point B, the hacker can log and capture your information. 
  • Snooping/Sniffing – A packet sniffer is a kit that criminals can use to take data packets which contain sensitive information. Packet sniffers aren’t always used in nefarious ways, but they are one way for hackers to steal your information. 
  • Rogue networks – You should never connect to a WiFi network that comes from an unknown source. Criminals can set up public WiFi networks with the intent of stealing your information. You will be able to access the internet, but you’ll also have your data captured. Oftentimes, these rogue networks will have a name very similar to a nearby, trusted network. 

Protecting Yourself On Public WiFi

If you want to stay safe on public WiFi, you have to follow a few key steps. The most effective way to safely use public WiFi is to use a VPN (virtual private network) which creates a pipeline within a public WiFi network which is secure. If you’re not using a VPN, take heed of the following information.

  • Never send important information while connected to public WiFi. Would you stand up in the middle of a Starbucks and shout out your credit card or Social Security number? Absolutely not. Don’t send important e-mails, log in to important websites or make purchases using a credit card while using a public network. If you do, this information could be stolen. 
  • Turn off WiFi unless you’re actually using it. The less time you’re connected to the network, the less opportunity hackers have to collect information. 
  • Turn off the automatic connection feature on your phone. Also, turn off the “remember this network” feature. This will allow you to connect to WiFi only when you desire. 
  • Always keep your apps and devices up to date. When an update is released for your phone or an app, it is often specifically for security purposes. Failure to update to the latest version can put you at serious risk. 
  • Don’t connect to a network if you’re unsure of its origin. If you’re at a restaurant and you’re unsure which network is their official network, ask an employee. 
  • Never install software over public WiFi.

WiFi can be a convenient tool if used properly. Follow the basic safety rules in order to stay safe on public WiFi. 

A Free Guide on How To Secure Your Identity & Protect Your Data