Dangers of using a public Wi-Fi network

The convenience of a freely available public Wi-Fi can entice cyber users to connect to an unknown network without considering the potential dangers and cyber risks. Sharing personal information and data over a public network will considerably reduce the users privacy, allowing cybercriminals access to sensitive information and subsequently compromising their cyber security.

A public Wi-Fi network provides exposure to personal documents including any photos, bank statements. Accessing email and social media accounts through a public Wi-Fi network can jeopardise user cyber security. Cybercriminals are using publically available Wi-Fi networks to steal data for various forms of cybercrimes such as targeted malware, identity theft and ransomware.

TechDecoded recommends the following tips for protecting personal
data when using a public Wi-Fi network:

  • Limit use of a public Wi-Fi network unless absolutely necessary - The best approach for preventing any sort of data compromise is to ensure that a public Wi-Fi network is not used. Moreover, minimise the use of a public Wi-Fi network to when absolutely necessary.
  • Avoid unsecured public networks -  Unsecure public networks are not password protected. Therefore, these type of public networks are heavily targeted by cybercriminals.
  • Use trusted networks only - Try to use the Internet via a trusted Wi-Fi network avoiding all open, free and public network connections.
  • Avoid clicking remember password - While using a public Wi-Fi network, avoid logging into any personal social media or email accounts. However, if a login is imminently required ensure that the save password tick box is not selected.
  • Check the free Wi-Fi network name -  Cybercriminals are known to create replica public Wi-Fi networks that have correlating network names to trusted networks. The fake Wi-Fi networks are created to steal private information and valuable data. Take precaution to make sure you are connecting to the actual network of your trusted Wi-Fi provider.
  • Avoid using a public Wi-Fi network to visit online banking websites or applications - Avoid making any banking transactions via a public Wi-Fi network. Sensitive data such as bank sort codes, account numbers and balances can be exposed to cybercriminals which may be used to initiate another cybercrime.
  • Avoid sending emails over an unsecure network connection - Any email sent using an unsecure network connection will not be in an encrypted format. This gives cybercriminals the opportunity to intercept the message to obtain the cyber users  data, resulting in a breach of privacy.
  • Disable automatic connection to public Wi-Fi networks  - Amend device settings to turn off automatic Wi-Fi network connection.
  • Turn off wireless connection on devices when the Internet is not being used - Ensure the wireless connection is manually turned off when the Internet is not being used on any device. By switching off a wireless connection manually, all access points are closed. Open access points can be exploited by cybercriminals.