When you walk into a coffee shop or a train station or a shopping mall, you see a pop up “Connect to free WiFi” and obviously you are tempted and you connect, without giving it a second thought. That’s where this new age’s is headed to and that is one of many reasons hackers take advantage and use it to steal your data.
Here are the major risks that you might think it’s not a threat at all, but is:
1. Never use public WiFi to connect to internet banking, carry out transactions (like, pay bills, online shopping) or any sensitive information. This means any websites that needs you to input your password. Because hackers might be on the same network and can sniff the information to steal your personal data.
2. Do not connect to WiFi that are open. i.e. networks that lets you connect without any passwords. Then again, just because it has an authentication, there is no guarantee it is secure.
3. Even if you are careful about the above two pointers, there’s a high chance that any communication that’s going out of your system is being sniffed by someone. So, make sure you use only HTTPS websites. This means your communication to the internet will be secure(unreadable format).
Some of you might be wondering, what if there’s an emergency and I need to access a public WiFi? Okay, there might be a way, but its not always safe.
Here are few MUST follow protocols that’s could secure your data upto a point:
1. Do not leave your WiFi option “Connect Automatically” enabled on your phone or your laptop. Leave connecting to a network under your control.
2. Like mentioned, always use HTTPS websites, so that communication going out is encrypted. You may use extensions like, HTTPS-Everywhere to make sure of it. This extension will even send a http connection using secure means.
3. This is a wise option: Use VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection while connecting to a wireless network. It gives you an end to end encryption and makes sure your data is transferred (communicated) secure and is private.
4. Another basic rule, treat your mobile device the same way you would treat your personal computer/laptop. This includes, keeping it up-to-date, softwares patched with proper anti-virus installed.
This might be a little scary, although it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to tether yourself from wireless world. It just means, one should take all precautionary measures to stay safe.
P.S. It is also advisable to keep your Bluetooth off unless and until necessary. There are ways hackers scan for all open Bluetooth connections (and Wi-Fi) and try to find a way to get information using the open ones.
Stay safe out there!