Free Wi-Fi seems to have few disadvantages. Smart company owners understand that they need it and that the benefits are unquestionable. It’s a low-cost system using affordable routers that can cover a wide region. These same characteristics make them attractive targets for hackers. The issue, I think, is that people like you and me feel it is improbable that we would be in a coffee shop with a “whizz-kid,” a super-smart hacker frantically trying to put together your information to wipe out your bank account. That is not the case in reality. The truth is that it’s simpler than ever for anybody with a mouse pad to click a few buttons and get immediate access to their lives.
Nowadays, a hacker may monitor the network traffic of an entire store/coffee shop by concealing a tiny gadget in his bag. The problem is not just that these networks are very vulnerable to assault. Users regularly expose their sensitive personal data via Wi-Fi hotspots with little or no knowledge of the danger, making the network a very appealing target.
The fact that anybody may join the network adds to its inherent danger. While requiring a password to join the network may seem secure, if everyone knows the password, it is no better than not having one at all. The hacker’s initial task is to connect to your network. A public password is a fool’s errand.
What are our options?
One method hackers may use to fool you is by setting up their network in the public space where you are. For instance, if the network’s real name is “GoldfishClean7842,” he/she may have “GoldfishClean7842,” which you join, and “oops,” you’re in danger. They can now not only watch what you do, but also store everything you do. It’s creepy.
There are methods available for encrypting the connection between your computer and any website that you visit. Fortunately, the most commonly used type of encryption requires just a cursory examination of your browser’s address bar. A website address that begins with “https” (the “s” is critical) indicates that SSL encryption is enabled. Additionally, your browser’s address bar will show a padlock symbol to signify that an SSL connection is active. SSL encryption scrambles the data you transmit and receive, rendering it unreadable for prying eyes. SSL is a security protocol that websites use on their backend, and it has long been common practice for financial institutions and major websites such as Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter. When you access a login page, check your account information, or input your payment information on a respectable online purchasing site, SSL should be enabled.
If you see any warning pop-ups, refrain from using the site. That is all.
Make use of a VPN service
To guarantee that all of your internet traffic is encrypted, regardless of which websites or applications you visit, I strongly advise you to sign up for a virtual private network (VPN) service. A VPN service creates a physical barrier between you and the internet by routing all of your conversation and data via a VPN company-controlled server. Your encrypted communication will not be sent to the internet until it goes via this VPN server. Someone monitoring you through Wi-Fi will only see distorted data traveling between your device and this additional VPN server. Since connection to the web is routed via a mediator (the VPN server), a measure of user anonymity is also offered.
I hope this helps to illustrate the advantages of online safety. Let us all make a point this year of increasing our understanding of the very real dangers that face us in this brave new world.
For the time being, ciao. Have fun surfing.