Free is great. It’s open it’s convenient. But when it comes to Wi-Fi, here are three reasons you should avoid it.
Reason #1 – Open wifi does not encrypt the traffic. The traffic can be intercepted in route and all your sensitive data may be sniffed along the way. Open means exactly that. Everything is out in the open.
Reason #2 – A hotspot may not be legit. We’ve all been at a hotel or coffee shop as a convenient way to access the internet. The problem is that the hotspot [business]guest may not be the actual business’s hotspot but rather a rogue hacker’s hotspot, instead. A rogue hotspot can have a name similar to the business that you would expect. However, it may belong to a hacker who can observe all your activity, to include your password logins and communications.
Hacker’s can use many tools. One very effective is the Wi-Fi Pineapple. With this device, the hacker will own you.
Reason #3 – You can become infected by another infected system on the same Wireless network. This is precisely the case recently with the ransomware “WannaCry”. In this case, the ransomware uses an infected system to infect other systems on the same wireless network. So, for example, an infected computer at a Starbucks would look for other devices connected to infect them.
So… what can you do to protect yourself?
- Run all windows updates on your computer.
- Don’t use outdated unsupported operating systems like Windows XP.
- If you get prompted by an unknown scanner, informing you that you are infected, do not install their recommended software. Close the page and restart your computer.
- Keep a backup of your data, and keep the backup media disconnected except for performing the backup.
- Pay attention to your https:// connections. If the browser warns you the connection is compromised stop using the website and google what is wrong. You may be going through a proxy (a man in the middle). Which means that all your traffic is going through a middle application between your browser and the intended website.
- Last but definitely not least. Use a mobile hotspot. You can have an independent hotspot or even use your cell phone as one. Most cell phones can be configured to be used as hotspots.