The dangers of public wifi
We’ve all been there, and we’ll probably be there again. You pull out your laptop at the coffeeshop, and you’re trying to find any wifi connection you can so you can check your emails, go on social media, and read the news.
After searching for a couple of minutes, you finally find an open network and you log in. You might not think about it at the time, but what harm could connecting to public wifi cause you?
Probably more than you could imagine.
The myths of public wifi
Before we dive into the dangers of using public wifi, let’s define what public wifi is. Any internet connection that isn’t your personal home internet is considered public wifi. That means that even password protected wifi at a coffee shop can still cause you problems.
Think of public wifi the same way you would approach vendor risk management for your business. The service of a vendor (the internet) might be needed, but you wouldn’t want to use that service until you properly vetted it.
How public wifi works
All the data you’re using on an open network is technically visible to anyone else using that network. The default setting for networks is for other people to not see your data, but if you’re a proficient hacker, you can easily access anyone’s information on an open network.
Depending on how long and how many sites you visit on an open network, a hacker could launch a phishing scam against you, but it doesn’t stop there. Depending on what you’re doing online, a hacker could get access to your social media profiles, emails, and even your bank accounts.
How to avoid getting hacked while on public wifi
The most useful tip is to just avoid connecting to public wifi whenever you can. Understandably, though, that’s a hard thing to ask for in 2017, so here are some other tips.
At least limit your public wifi use
You need to manage your internet actions just like you’d manage your identity.
Limit both your time and the sites you’re visiting. To help with this, think of what sites you would and wouldn’t visit if a complete stranger was looking over your shoulder.
Use a VPN or your cellphone hotspot
A virtual private network (VPN) or your phone’s built-in hotspot capabilities allow you to access the internet on your computer wherever you are, but without using public wifi.