At home, having access to the Internet has become relatively easy over time. But outside, things may be a little more dangerous! More and more frequently, people are turning to the most obvious solution: connecting to a public or private WiFi service.
Public WiFi has become very attractive to many mobile device users, especially those who have to travel regularly or those who have a limited data plan. But while this service is now a common sight, very few consumers are aware of the risks they face when accessing it.
What is public WiFi? What are its dangers? and how to protect yourself? These are the questions that this post aims to answer.
What is public Wi-Fi & what threats may it hides?
Public WiFi networks – otherwise known as hotspots, public WiFi hotspots can be found in places such as cafes, bars, airports, train stations, shopping malls, public gardens, museums, libraries, universities, restaurants and hotels. It allows users of laptops, tablets or smartphones to connect to the Internet for free.
There are also private WiFi hotspots for which the service is not free. In the age of new technologies, these places are so much part of the landscape that Internet users access them without worrying too much about the consequences.
If connecting to social networks or consulting an online magazine is harmless, the same cannot be said for reading emails, consulting banking transactions, or logging in, which requires identification. It is therefore essential to realize that these online activities performed on a public WiFi network present IT security risks.
Related post: 10 Security controls for effective cybersecurity
How to be well protected when accessing public WiFi?
However, it is possible to identify public WiFi networks that do not have any protection: they do not require authentication, you can access them as soon as you click on the access point.
These vulnerable networks are a favorite target for cybercriminals and are the object of a high number of attacks, the most famous being the Man-in-the-Middle attack in which a hacker, by positioning himself between the client and the access point, can intercept the sensitive information that transits without the users’ knowledge. Fortunately, solutions exist.
Besides being aware of the need to protect yourself online, i.e. to think before you connect, the most advantageous technique is to use the VPN (Virtual Private Network) process, which encrypts and codes your entire Internet connection to protect both your anonymity and your personal data.
With this process, it is absolutely impossible for anyone to monitor you since it would take too much time.
Learn more about virtual private networks