The Dangers of Public Wi-Fi
March 5, 2018 by Bill Rosenthal

Walking into a Starbucks and seeing the tables occupied by people furiously working at their laptops is a common experience in today’s world. After all, working on the road can mean that you must find public Wi-Fi access points where they are accessible, such as the free network at your hotel, the airport, or your favorite coffeehouse. 

While public Wi-Fi is convenient, it does not come without risks. The two most common issues are legitimate Wi-Fi networks being compromised or hackers setting up rogue access points. Both methods allow the cybercriminals to access your personal information and wreak havoc. Although these types of cyberattacks are not quite as common as others, but the definitely happen. The BBC recently reported that a recent attack at a Starbucks made computers actually mine for cryptocurrency. 

What can you do to protect yourself when you need to use a public Wi-Fi network? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Update Everything – Cybercriminals are always looking for vulnerabilities to exploit and vendors try to put out patches for issues as soon as they arise. Make sure that your systems, software, browsers, and apps are all updated to the most current version to help keep hackers out of your information. Current updates are much more difficult to hack into.
  • Tether to Your Smartphone – If a network seems untrustworthy, consider tethering your laptop or tablet to your smartphone by activating your mobile hotspot. International travel may prevent this from being a viable option, but this is one of the most secure ways to access the internet when out of range of a trustworthy network.
  • Avoid Using Certain Websites – It is a good idea to avoid websites that require a secure login just to err on the side of caution while on a public network. Should the Wi-Fi actually be compromised, the hackers could steal your passwords, personal information, or even your identity.
  • Encrypt Your Data – From browsing the internet to sending email, encrypt everything that you do online. If possible, use a Virtual Private Network (or VPN), which means that everything that you do online will be encrypted.
  • Use Your Gut Instinct – If something seems suspicious or odd about the Wi-Fi network, simply do not connect to it. Ask an employee at the location where the connection is being provided if they can verify the information to ensure that it isn’t bogus. You must judge whether or not the network seems unsecure based on your instincts and cybersecurity training. 

Would you like to improve your cybersecurity knowledge so you can be safer while working on the road? Visit our online store or contact Logical Operations to learn about our many cybersecurity training offerings today!