We are used to the situation that you can get Internet access wherever you want. You will likely be surprised when the hotel where you have booked a room has no Wi-Fi network than if it has. Free Wi-Fi can be met even in a little café at the corner of the building you pass every day, or in the public park where you are walking on your weekend. But there is an unseen and often unspoken danger, that is actual for every public Wi-Fi network. Let me explain to you, which hazards are meant and how to decrease the related risks.
How can Wi-Fi be dangerous?
Your own home wireless network access point has a lot of differences with public Wi-Fi networks. And I meant not only technical details, but also the external factors that surround hotspots in the process of usage. Saying short, technical details influence is minimal – you can easily meet the network in a restaurant that has the same technical aspects as your home Wi-Fi does. So, let’s check out which factors can lead to unpleasant consequences for your data and your PC.
Every Wi-Fi router provides the ability to choose the security mechanism for the new-created network. However, because there is no display on the router, and it is equaled with the periphery devices, you need to connect to the just-created network with your computer or laptop. The interface of a web setup application is not very user-friendly, so the majority of users just plug the router cable into the power outlet, insert the Internet cable in it, and then start the Wi-Fi usage. Even if an inexperienced user sets up the network, he will likely choose the WEP encryption, because it is much easier to set up that WPA. But what is the problem with WEP?
First, let’s figure out why traffic encryption is needed. Every time when you get a message, or watch the video on YouTube, your device swaps the data packets with the server. But these packets can be intercepted and read by anyone who has the special software. Such an attack is called Man in the Middle (MitM), and used to steal the credentials for your social networks, banking apps, as well as other information that may be useful for blackmailing or demanding the ransom, for example. Encryption is used to make the traffic impossible to read by the third party, so all mentioned horrors will be much harder (or even impossible) to perform.
Creating a fake Wi-Fi network
Rules of secure usage of public Wi-Fi
Prefer to use the secured networks. This solution is obvious, but even WEP encryption is better than no encryption at all. Of course, you can get into the situation when there are no networks with the encryption in the range, but the risk may be too big to make such a reckless action.
Do not share the important information through the public hotspots. When the circumstances force you to use unprotected Wi-Fi, try to minimize the risks. Do not log in your accounts, avoid using the banking app, and do not send any files that must not be in public access.
Always check the proper SSID of the Wi-Fi network you are going to use. Usually, all cafes, restaurants or hotels which offer the wireless internet access point, also provide the network name (SSID) somewhere at the reception, or in the room. Check these places or ask the stuff for the correct information.
Use virtual private networks (VPN). This trick allows you to forget about the first type of MitM attack (when the network is not controlled by the cybercriminals). Nowadays, VPN may be embedded in your anti-malware program, so you can set it up without any additional downloads. However, if you will connect to the counterfeited hotspot, VPN will not be able to protect your data.