As the Public WiFi Security Risks are increasing day by day, WiFi users, especially Mobile Users, are at risk from hackers, but thankfully there are protections against them. The recent proliferation of free, public WiFi has been an enormous boon for working professionals. Since these free access points are available at restaurants, hotels, airports, bookstores and even random retail outlets, access to your network and your job is rarely more than a short trip away. However, this freedom comes at a cost, and few understand the Public WiFi Security Risks associated with these ties. Learning how to protect yourself will guarantee that your valuable business information stays safe.
Public WiFi Security Risks
The same characteristics that make free WiFi hotspots attractive for customers make them desirable for hackers, namely that creating a network connection requires no authentication. This gives the hacker an enormous opportunity to obtain unfettered access to unsecured computers on the same network.
The greatest challenge to free WiFi security is the hacker’s ability to place himself between you and the point of communication. So you’re sending the information to the hacker instead of talking directly to the hotspot, who then relays it on.
The hacker has access to any piece of information you send out on the Internet when operating in this setup: substantial emails, credit card information and even security credentials to your business network. If the hacker has that data, he can access your systems at his leisure as if he were you.
Hackers may also use an unsecured WiFi link to spread malware. The hacker will easily plant infected software on your computer when you allow file-sharing across a network. Some ingenious hackers have also compromised the link point, causing a pop-up window to appear during the connection process that provides an update to a piece of standard software. The malware is installed by clicking on the window.
You should expect Internet security problems and Public WiFi Security Risks to evolve as mobile WiFi becomes more popular. This doesn’t mean, though, that you have to stay away from free WiFi and tether yourself to a desk again. The vast majority of hackers go after easy targets, and your information should be kept secure by taking a few precautions.
Using a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) connection is necessary when connecting to your company via an unsecured connection; like a WiFi hotspot, a virtual private network (VPN) connection is needed. The data here will be strongly encrypted even if a hacker manages to place himself in the centre of your link. Since most hackers are after a simple target, they would probably discard stolen information rather than putting it through a lengthy decryption process.
Using SSL Connections
You may not have a VPN available for general Internet surfing, but you can always add a layer of encryption to your correspondence. Allow the “Always Use HTTPS” option on websites that you frequently visit or that require credentials of any sort to be entered. Note that hackers understand how individuals reuse passwords, so your username and password could be the same for some random forum as it is for your bank or corporate network, and submitting these credentials may open the door to an intelligent hacker in an unencrypted way. Somewhere in their settings, most websites that need an account or credentials have the ‘HTTPS’ option.
Switch Off Sharing
You’re unlikely to want to share anything when you connect to the Internet in a public location. Depending on your OS, you can turn off sharing from Device Settings or Control Panel or let Windows turn it off for you by selecting the “Public” option when you first link to a new, unsecured network.
Disconnect Public WiFi When You Don’t Need It
Even if you haven’t actively linked to a network, your computer’s WiFi hardware continuously transmits data between any number of networks. Security measures are in place to prevent you from being hacked by this minor contact, but not all wireless routers are the same, and hackers can be a pretty smart bunch. Keep your WiFi off if you are only using your computer to work on a Word or Excel text. You’ll experience a much longer battery life as a bonus, too.
Stay Safe While Using Public WiFi
Even people who take all possible public WiFi safety measures can come into problems from time to time. In this interconnected era, it is just a fact of life. That’s why having a stable Internet security solution installed and running on your computer is imperative. These solutions will run a malware search on your files continuously, and when they are downloaded, they will still scan new files. The best consumer security apps will also provide business protection solutions, so you can secure yourself when you are out and about and your servers back at the office, all at the same time.
Throughout the life of any business traveller, there will come a time when the only connection available is an unsecured, open, public WiFi hotspot, and your work has to be done right then. Understanding Public WiFi Security Risks will ensure that your essential business information does not become another hacking statistic.