Risks of connecting to a public WiFi network

Public WiFi networks are gaining more ground every day, something understandable when you notice that many businesses use them to stand out from the competition. Apart from the fact that it is now considered good customer service to have such a network, it does not matter where you are. Now that the holiday season is coming, it is tempting to want to connect to a public Wi-Fi network to share those moments or simply shorten the wait at airports or terminals. But many users do not pay attention to the risks or possible attacks these can bring. Read more details in the following lines.

Read: Can we predict crimes in the best Minority Report style?

Attacks and risks of a public WiFi network

When accessing a public WiFi network, it’s mandatory to take precautions, which are always ignored; this is why many users fall for even the most common attacks. To be aware when using one of these networks, learn about the most common risks:

  • Man in the Middle attacks (MitM): This is an attack that allows the cybercriminal to access connected devices and get in the middle of the data transfer, thus obtaining all the information that passes from one end of the connection to the other. 
  • Encryption: Many of these networks do not offer encryption on their connections, so for an experienced cybercriminal, access to devices and their information is very simple.
  • Malware distribution: if a hacker has access to a public WiFi network, it is easy for them to distribute malware to all connected computers, which then connect to private networks and infect many devices at the same time.
  • Snooping and sniffers: these are tools that allow cybercriminals to obtain more sensitive information such as account’s credentials and even bank accounts’, tools that are easily implemented on public networks.
  • Fake networks: Various cybercriminals are able to launch their own open networks without passwords, which turn out to be not public but masquerading as a public business or site, giving them the opportunity to easier access the devices of distracted users.

Tips for safely accessing a public WiFi network

It never hurts to emphasize the usual advice when accessing any network, but we reinforce those with the following ones.

  • Do not access websites that request personal or sensitive information. After all, you do not know who else is connected to that network.
  • Always use antivirus and have the latest updates installed on your devices.
  • Always be aware of websites without the HTTPS protocol since it guarantees that everything transmitted between the device and the site is encrypted.
  • Turn on the setting that asks if you want to connect to a public and open network.
  • Always have two-factor authentication enabled.

With these recommendations and knowing the risks that being connected to this kind of network brings, you will be able to use them safely. Using them is not bad; you just have to know how to do it.

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