Public Wi-Fi Security Risks: Is it safe to use?


Usage of the Internet has increased manyfold over the past several years. Even when we are on the go,  our business commitments force us to use the Internet. This way we end up using the public Wi-Fi network also at times. But is safety ensured over public Wi-Fi? We are not sure. Of late we have come to know that a public Wi-Fi network is not safe.

They are prone to a lot of dangers. The following article lists out the various dangers that are associated with public Wi-Fi and some of the precautions that you could take to keep your data and device safe.

> Personal information theft: Strangers can have free access to your personal information if you are working in a compromised public wi-fi network. They can steal your login, passwords, financial data like data related to your bank accounts, your pictures, documents, etc. Theft of personal information is one of the serious risks present in a public wi-fi network. People who get access to your login information can easily tamper with your accounts and perform transactions like how you legitimately do. This is serious trespassing digitally and can cause a great loss to you.

> Theft of business information: When you are into business and are traveling a lot, you may sometimes be forced to use public wi-fi. You may want to send an urgent mail or check some important information online. When you do this over public wi-fi there is no guarantee that it is safe. Your data may be stolen by the service provider and sold off to advertisers. This leads to a serious breach and there is no safety for your business data.

> Anyone who is using the same Wi-Fi connection like you can use a tool called the packet sniffer. Whatever you transmit over the Internet can be easily recorded by the other person also. This is very much possible when the data is not encrypted you give a free hand to use your data without your knowledge. While packets sniffers or packet analyzers are also tools that help in troubleshooting, they have this inherent danger with them. While using a public Wi-Fi network you have to be very sure that you're safe but this is not possible.

> Hijacking your session is another danger with a public Wi-Fi network. Without your knowledge, the hijacker will have entire access to your accounts. For example, when you log into your bank account, he can remotely do the same and hijack your session and the bank will think that only you are operating the account. No one can ever find out that a hijack has happened unless you find out that money has been missing from your account. Intruders know very well that people will be using the public Wi-Fi since they are in some urgency and they want to do some important tasks. So, they make use of this opportunity and use up all the information and try to wipe away the money from the accounts. They also take up all sensitive information.

> There may be public networks that carry a similar name with a slight change in the spelling. This might not be noticeable to a person who is just using the Wi-Fi network in a hurry. It might seem that they are using the same network as they think but someone has intercepted in the middle and tried to steal the information through another network like a proxy that had they had set up. This for example can happen in a hotel you are staying where a name similar to the one that is given by the hotel to their network can be chosen by the interceptor. Thinking that you are using the Wi-Fi provided by the hotel you may be logging in into the trap.

> All websites are not encrypted and this may be the reason that allows trespassers to log in to the public Wi-Fi network. Then you're working on a site that is encrypted the danger is very less. But not all websites offer this protection. So, when you are working on a public Wi-Fi network and also on a website that does not offer encryption then you are prone to high danger. In such cases, people can track whatever you are browsing and take as much information as they can. This is also done with the help of the session hijacking that we have seen. They can sniff around and can trespass into the website that you have been browsing. This way an unencrypted website can help strangers to steal information about others.

> When you use a public Wi-Fi network there are chances that you are device is trespassed and malware or ransomware is planted. Tricksters may find ways to log into your device and thereby plant malware. With this, they can access all your sensitive information too. Malware can be planted in the form of advertisements that appear on the websites you visit. In serious cases, the malware can continue to access all your connections despite you being logged out of the public Wi-Fi network. This means that even after your move away from the public place the malware sticks to your device and keeps penetrating into your files. This can cause serious damage to your personal and professional information.

Now that we have seen the various dangers that are prevalent when we use a public Wi-Fi network does that mean that we should totally avoid using it? According to, there are certain precautions that we can take while using public Wi-Fi that can make us stay protected. Let us see what these are.

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1. Try using a VPN: VPN is a virtual private network. When connecting to an unsecured public Wi-Fi you must use a virtual private network. This helps in keeping your data encrypted. Data that is encrypted can only be read by those who have the key to it. Strangers who try to steal others' information through compromised public Wi-Fi cannot have access to encrypted information. They also cannot spend time deciphering this kind of information. This way, using a VPN can help you stay protected in case you definitely need to use public Wi-Fi.

2. Try to turn off sharing: While using public Wi-Fi, try to turn off sharing your connection. This can be done by visiting the settings section on your device. When you're connected to a public network your operating system can also choose to do the unsharing by letting it know that it is a public network.

3. Keep your Wi-Fi off: Since you are connected to a network you don't have to keep it connected always. Whenever you're not using the Wi-Fi or whenever you're not browsing or using your device you could try to switch off the Wi-Fi in your device. Not always are you going to browse data while using the public network? So, this could be one tip to save you from digital trespassing.

Two-factor authentication: This is done on certain websites for increased security. In addition to your password, there is another factor that lets you log in. This may be through a one-time code that will be sent to your personal mobile number. This information cannot be stolen by strangers who are prying.

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