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Risks of Public WIFI & What to consider before connecting & protect Data

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In the world today Internet accessibility is easy and free and enjoyed by the mass populations in the world. Wifi is a popular technology that allows electronic devices such as computers, laptops, smart phones; to exchange data or connect to the internet wirelessly using radio waves.
However as much as it is enjoyed WIFI has its downfalls. Providing free WIFI to your customers or users comes with dangers, just as connecting to any free WIFI hotspot that does not provide a secure connection.

How It is Done

1. Public Hotspots are every where.

Hackers can steal information from smart phones and other mobile devices is through free public Wi-Fi hotspots, like the kind found in coffee shops, gyms, restaurants, schools, hotels, Libraries, Book Stores, airports etc. A skilled hacker with a laptop and some free software can intercept data being shared on a Wi-Fi network, similar to someone eavesdropping on conversations at a cocktail party, "It's called 'sniffing". 

 "Your computer determines whether information (shared on a Wi-Fi network) is meant for you or is meant for somebody else. For the most part, your computer is going to say 'this isn't meant for me' and discard it. What we're saying is, 'everything is meant for me.'

According to statistics public Hotspots are expected to increase by 350% .  A good percentage of people of no concern connecting to unsecure network, to be unsecure means, that their is no authentication like a password or key needed, they are immediately excited that this is "free wifi". However still a good percentage also connect despite clear warnings that their information can be viewed and accessed by a third party.

2. How Hackers exploit public Wifi Hotspots

  • Man In The Middle [MITM] Attacks - A hacker injects himself between two computers and intercepts or modules communication between them.
  • Rogue Wifi Networks - A hacker sets up fake networks that masquerade as legitmate networks to steal information from unsuspecting users who connect to it.
  • Packet Sniffers - Readily accessible tools hackers use to intercept any information sent over unsecured WIFI - see list of hacker tools

Once connected to the wifi network, a hacker is able to see all the sites you have visited and you are at risk of exposing sensitive information like Username and Password for Online Banking, Social Media, Emails, Online Shopping. 

It's done also by  Once a mobile device is connected to a hacker's Wi-Fi network, a "phony software update" can be sent to the phone, giving the hacker access to text messages, photos, and other private information as well. 

3. What to consider before you connect to free wifi and how to protect your data

First of all Every person needs AWARENESS, with this they can surf safely online and they can transmit information they consider sensitive, as long as they know what to look for.”

  • Avoid connecting to unsecured public wifi in favor of a secured home or office network.
  • Confirm the WIFI network name with the business owner [these two must match to show credibility and authenticity]
  • Make sure your antivirus and firewall are turned on.
  • Make sure the websites you visit start with HTTPS.
  • Use a VPN [Virtual Private Network].
  • Turn on two factor authentication for accounts. [Means combining two different components, you can log in online with your password but the next step sends a code to your phone that you use to complete the authentication].
  • If your connected to public wifi it is advisable to be selective about their online activity while connected to a public Wi-Fi network. - “If its sensitive information, such as banking, personal notes, even medical information, that's generally something you don't want to share in public”. You wouldn't have that conversation in public, so you wouldn't transmit it in public either.