Free WiFi hotspots are basically all over the place these days. From malls to fast-food restaurants, coffee shops, subways, and even some hotels offer free WiFi connections. If you do connect to public WiFi access points, be mindful that your connections over a WiFi network (especially free WiFi) can be used for hacking and spying purposes by nefarious actors who are linked up to the same network.
Just because the WiFi access is being offered by big multi-billion dollar corporations Starbucks or McDonald’s doesn’t mean that the connections are already secure. It is actually remarkably easy for a skilled hacker to snoop and steal someone’s login credentials over a public WiFi network. Since most public WiFi networks are being shared with a lot of people, this means that your personal data are exposed in that same network.
All that in mind, let’s take a look at the risks associated with free WiFi hotspots.
Avoiding Security Risks While Connected to Free WiFi
Hackers use free WiFi hotspots as one of their main attack vectors for executing horrifying things over the internet, such as stealing banking details, login credentials, and snooping through private messages. With most WiFi hotspots requiring no authentication whatsoever to anyone who wishes to establish a connection over the network, this becomes a huge advantage for hackers to get unrestricted accesses to users’ devices.
Aside from being able to access your systems, hackers can also infect your computer with malware, especially if file-sharing is enabled on your computer. In most cases, the infected software will be installed on your computer without your knowledge. Hackers would even try to trick you into clicking over a button or certain link to a website offering an upgrade to a certain product or service, but upon clicking the link, the malware will install on your system instead.
Should I Avoid Free WiFi Hotspots Altogether?
If you can avoid using public WiFi in general that’s probably a good thing, however we’re not saying that you should stay away from public WiFi access points completely. You still can connect to such networks, but make sure that you take certain precautionary measures before sharing information over a public WiFi network.
Using a reliable VPN or proxy server will do the trick, and will ultimately keep your connections secure, private, and all the data you send or receive strongly encrypted. The same is true with a proxy server, and although most proxies don’t deploy any encryption system, they can still help you hide your internet habits from prying eyes.
It is also ideal to turn off file-sharing on your computer when connecting to a public WiFi network. Having file sharing enabled on your system basically exposes your system to the unsecured network, hence, putting your connection at risk.
Make sure that your WiFi is turned off on your device(s) when not being used. Even if you are not connected to a WiFi network, your device’s WiFi hardware is still going to transmit data to any network within range.
Staying Safe on Public Free WiFi
To have safe browsing experiences while connected to a public WiFi access point, make sure that you do not directly ‘talk’ with the hotspot. Instead, use a third-party tool like a VPN or premium proxy server to relay information for you instead. This will keep your connections secure and anonymous.
With a VPN or proxy server, you can check your bank account online with confidence even via a public WiFi network. If you want to use a VPN service, we encourage you to give ProProxy Servera try. A 7-day demo of the service is available now, so you can check out how the service works before deciding to opt for the paid service!
For more information about safe browsing, check out our other articles on the subject here.