advice on using public Wi-Fi

A hacker’s playground

Sadly, even in 2020, using public Wi-Fi hotspots can result in your data being compromised by hackers and cyber criminals. Whether you are in a café, bar hotel or airport… pretty much everywhere now has free Wi-FI for its visitors. However… using public and unsecured Wi-fi is far riskier than people may be aware of.

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By installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) onto your device will provide crucial security to protect your privacy at all public Wi-Fi hotspots ensuring that all personal data such as online banking and other account logins are securely encrypted and cannot be compromised.

Our VPN partner and cyber security giant Norton reported that in one year alone, 594 million people around the world were victims of cybercrime in 2015, with 21% of Americans getting their email hacked, and 12% having their financial data stolen after shopping online. Furthermore, in their 2019 Official Annual Cybercrime Report, Global cybersecurity firm Herjavec Group also commented that ‘Cybersecurity Ventures predicts cybercrime will cost the world in excess of $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015.’ With public Wi-Fi available everywhere, what on the surface seems like a convenience… can actually put you at serious risk and place you in a hackers playground for stealing personal information.

So how can I be hacked on public Wi-Fi and what can I do to prevent it?

The biggest risk to using unsecured Wi-FI is a hackers ability to place themselves between you and the end connection point. These are known as ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks which occur when an individual’s data is intercepted between one connection and another. Once this is done, all of your online activity can be seen by the hacker so it is imperative to never use online banking or sign into any accounts on public Wi-Fi without the added security layer of a VPN.

It’s also far easier for hackers to install malware on to your device without you even knowing it’s happened when unsecured. Once dangerous malware is installed, they may able to view your movements and even recover passwords for your online banking and other online service providers. Not ideal!

Hackers may also utilise ‘rogue hotspots’ which is where you think your are connecting to the hotspot from the location you are in or nearby (such as Starbucks), but are really connecting to them, granting them access and sharing with them all of your online data and movements.

However, with a VPN switched on, your connection will be fully encrypted and invisible to anybody attempting this kind of attack. Ideal! expert tips for staying safe whilst using public Wi-Fi

  • Use a VPN at all times! A VPN connection is essential if you are using public Wi-Fi, providing you with a fully secure and encrypted internet connection. Many of the best VPNs will also send you a handy notification advising you when your device has found an unsecured connection and with one click… you will be protected
  • Use SSL connections. If you haven’t got a VPN, make sure you don’t visit any sites that don’t have “HTTPS”. You can usually set your device or internet browser to only allow visits to more secure sites with https.
  • Do not log in to any websites that require your username and password without a VPN switched on just in case your connection has been compromised
  • Turn off all file sharing (which can we found in your system preferences). How to do this will depend on your operating system or specific device but it should be relatively straight forward. Failing this, Google for the answer!
  • Switch off your Wi-Fi off completely if you don’t need access to the internet. This will stop you automatically connecting to unsecured hotspots and will save some of that all important battery life!

So in summary, data compromises on public Wi-Fi result in thousands of individuals and businesses leaking data to cyber criminals each and every day globally, and in some cases cause enormous cost to those affected.

To get the best VPN to keep you safe whilst connecting to public Wi-Fi, why not check out our top 5 recommendations for 2020 by clicking here.


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