How safe is public wifi?

With the high dependence, humans have cultured over the Internet. WiFi is available almost everywhere. Whether it’s a restaurant, clothing store, or any outdoor spaces like parks. Public WiFi is generously used by the people because it is free of cost and people love the internet. 

But public wifi comes with one big cost that is often overshadowed by its free capital cost. The expensive cost of privacy is at risk under the usage of public WiFi. We need to aware of the dangers that lurk in them. 

The Risks

There are many unfortunate risks attached to connecting public wifi. 

Man in middle hacking

This is one of the biggest threats as it exposes a lot of privacy and information. This type of hacking is when the hacker can position itself between you, the user, and the wifi connection point. This way, they have all access to your information. You are feeding your information to them. Information like credit card information, emails, business data, passwords, and the list goes on. 

Malware distribution

There are also ways that attackers can slip malware(s) onto your computer without you even knowing. When you allow file-sharing across a network, the hacker can easily plant infected software on your computer. Hackers can exploit weaknesses found through software vulnerabilities by writing code to target a specific vulnerability, and then inject the malware onto your device.

These software vulnerabilities are weaknesses found in an operating system.

Creeping Hackers

Connecting to a public Wifi exposes users from hackers viewing whole web pages you have visited (including any information you may have filled out while visiting that webpage) to being able to capture your login credentials, and even hijack your accounts. This allows unauthorized access into your entire system. 

Where is this public wifi?

In Nepal, public WiFi was made available in tourist attractions like Basantapur Durbar Square, since 2018. Widely visited religious spaces like Pashupatinath, Boudhha Stupa and Swayambhunath provide free public WiFi. And of course, places like hotels, restaurants, and shops also have these kinds of open network services for their customers. 

Also Read: History of Data Breach in Nepal!

How to use safely?

It is impossible to completely boycott these free network services especially in times of emergency and dire need. In such cases, when you do choose to connect to these open networks here are some must-use safety precautions. 

  1. Avoid using sensitive websites which need you to log in with private information. For example online banking and shopping. It is better to not use these kinds of websites and avoid exposing your passwords wholly.
  2. Connect to secure networks. There are two kinds of networks offered. Open and secure. Open networks do not need you to sign in anything at all. Whereas secure networks need some kind of passwords or verification. Make sure you try to use secure networks as much as possible. 
  3. Use a VPN. Using a Virtual Private Network is the most safest and effective method. This will encrypt all your information and movement online. Thus, protecting your device from hackers trying to intercept your data. 
  4. Turn off your WiFi when not in use. This will help in completely blocking out hackers. Only turn on your WiFi when you are using it when connected to public WiFi. This will cancel out unnecessary risks even when not in use. 
  5. Make sure your device does not connect to open networks automatically. This is very risky when your phone is automatically connected to open networks without your knowledge not giving you time to adopt these safety measures. You can easily turn off this setting on the “Network Setting”’ of your devices. 
  6. Use HTTPS websites. Google Chrome lets you know if the website you are visiting uses an unencrypted HTTP connection. It will label the website as “Not secure” in red, so it will immediately catch your eye. 

WiFi is something we are dependent upon. It is a habit to ask for WiFi when visiting a restaurant or any shop.

However, it is very important to understand the risk that hides behind public WiFi’ Free tag price. People may think that there aren’t any hackers trying to get into their system or around them but you can never take such an assumption for sure. 

If in case you do need to use such public networks then, the safety measure suggested will help you avoid maximum damage. Every one of our highly private and sensitive information can be found on our devices these days and it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

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