Imagine catching up with the long-pending tasks of the month with a vanilla latte in your local coffee shop. What an amazing feeling of ease? Right? But you may not realize the monster on a public wi-fi with their jaws open to snap at any given opportunity lurking around you while you balance your account? We all are warned to beware of the threats of Public Wi-Fi use for sensitive purposes. But what exactly are those risks for which one should be conscious?
Risks of Public Wi-Fi:
Public Wi-Fi is a great service that keeps you connected to the online world for free. It also enables you to do little tasks effectively like calling an Uber or sharing your location with some friends etc. But utilizing the facility of public Wi-Fi to share some sensitive information or to access your bank account online can prove to be quite perilous. Indeed businesses are offering great free services but these services are unknown to the factor of security.
MitM (Man-in-the-Middle) Attacks:
The most common threat discovered on the Public Hotspots and Wi-Fi is of Man-in-the-Middle attacks. If I define man-in-the-middle in layman language? I would say it is technical eavesdropping to gain a peek into someone’s data or online conversations. When a computer or mobile phone makes a connection with Public Wi-Fi and transfer data from one end to another, the vulnerabilities of public Wi-Fi are exploited to sneak into the transmission. So what we consider private may not remain confidential on public Wi-Fi.
Malware and virus distribution:
A software vulnerability is basically a security loophole or fault spotted in the operating system or software program. Many hackers exploit the software vulnerabilities to slip malware into your machines without even you recognizing them. Spreading malware or virus through public Wi-Fi is easier. Hackers can optimize such opportunities by targeting the connected machines via some piece of code to inject the malware onto these devices.
We all have a fair idea of what encryption means. It is no new technique and has rather been around since the inception of the universe. Previously important messages were encrypted in such a way that only the receiver and sender could decrypt them. The same technique is being integrated into our new technologically advanced systems whether it is a router or computer. The information sent from your machine to the router is typically encoded so that no one can eavesdrop. Most of the routers are shipped with their encryption switched off. By default, the router’s encryption is off and it must be turned on when the network is installed. An ordinary technical assistant would have no idea about the encryption mode, however, an IT professional would. If the network is set by an IT professional there are fair chances that the encryption mode will be enabled. Otherwise, may God help you!
Now all the internet service providers themselves are stressing over the importance of security and are offering their own security suites to facilitate the customers. They also offer end to end encryption feature in order to ensure security. I found out about the Internet service provider’s security features in the quest for an effective ISP. AT&T Internet is going the extra mile to deliver a secure and protected network environment to their clients.
Many hackers and cybercriminals utilized the potential of malicious hotspots for the Man-in-the-middle attack. These “internet access points” trick people into connecting to a network that the user considers legitimate but is actually a malicious one. A quick example of it. You are staying at a “Hotel Days Inn” and want to connect to their Wi-Fi. Rather the cybercriminals set up a malicious hotspot by utilizing the name of the hotel let’s say “Hotel Days Inn Wi-Fi”. One can easily take it for the hotel’s wi-fi and unknowingly connect with the malicious hotspot. The information on your connected machines will get compromised at the very spot. The hackers will be able to view all the sensitive and other information available on your system through it. So, know exactly which Wi-Fi is provided by the facility before making any connection.
Public Wi-Fi at one instance facilitates us with free online access but also brings a great many threats with it at the other. One shouldn’t utilize public Wi-Fi unless it’s an absolute necessity.