In recent times cafes, malls and increasingly using metro, subway, trains, public Wi-Fi has become a golden opportunity for cybercriminals.
“People are always looking for ways to reduce the amount of mobile data they use each month, which leads many people to use free wi-fi spots, especially while out and about in town. Unfortunately, public places make a good cover for hackers who can easily set up malicious hotspots and steal people’s data, without you even realising,” says Paul Ashton, Japan Country Manager at NordVPN. His colleague, Daniel Markuson highlights some risks of unsafe public Wi-Fi after a discussion with computer hackers in closed online forums.
What makes public Wi-Fi unsafe
From NordVPN study, hackers agreed on two common points that can make any public Wi-Fi hotspot vulnerable. These are poor router configuration and lack of a strong password. They claim it can take a couple of minutes to start peeking at confidential information sent from a device connected to unsecured Wi-Fi. If you’re lucky, the snooper may just read your browsing activity. But in the worst-case scenario, they can steal all your sensitive information, including passwords and credit card details. As your device is constantly looking for trusted Wi-Fi networks, stalkers can use these connection requests to find out where you live. It’s enough to type it on public website that creates heatmaps of Wi-Fi hotspots, such as Wigle.net.
How to protect devices when using public Wi-Fi
Daniel Markuson, provides some useful tips on what you should do to protect your devices and information they hold.
– When connecting to Wi-Fi in a coffee shop or hotel, always double-check the network name with a member of the staff. Remember, hackers might create fake Wi-Fi hotspots using names that look trustworthy.
– On public Wi-Fi, avoid visiting sensitive websites, logging into your social accounts, and never perform any banking transactions. Public Wi-Fi is best for browsing the internet.
– Enable your firewall. Most operating systems have built-in firewall, which keeps outsiders from going through your computer’s data.
– Use a VPN (virtual private network). Reliable VPN will make sure your online connections are private and no sensitive data can get into the hands of criminals.
– Remember to turn off the Wi-Fi function on your device when not using it.
Protecting your Business data
For businesses, one thing you should always have at the top of your priority list is protecting your data. It’s a hot commodity these days, and that means your company’s infrastructure could easily be targeted and attacked instantly obtaining your life long work. If you suffer a data breach, the results could be devastating. You could potentially suffer irrevocable reputational damage or lose thousands of dollars. Either way, your business dream could be over.
Outsource Your I.T. Security
If your business doesn’t have the in-house capabilities to sort out I.T. infrastructure issues and the size of the business does not leave room for a full-time member of staff to do the job, then you should outsource. Outsourcing your I.T. to managed I.T. service providers solves a range of problems while offering specialised and expert technical support. You’ll also be protected with professional liability, too, so their incentive is to ensure that you have the best protection going.
To have an adequate security system, you need to know where the vulnerabilities are. You and your I.T. professional should go over the whole system and audit everything, labelling things with various levels of protection required.
Encryption is a great security tool. Basically, without an encryption key, no one can access your data. So that means that if your data does get stolen by a cybercriminal or even an ordinary criminal in the form of a hard drive or flash drive, then you know that they cannot read your files because they do not have the key.
Utilise a Multi-Security Solution.
If you want to keep those hackers at bay, you need to make your I.T. infrastructure so difficult to hack that there really is no point in them doing it. Despite their ever more sophisticated techniques, if you employ a multi-security solution, you will be able to block cybercriminals from making specific and targeted attacks on your precious data. You need to install this multi-layered protection on every device your company uses to ensure that it is fully protected. What’s more, if an attack happens, the system will alert you that it is happening, which means you can make immediate calls. Who knows, your I.T. team or outsourced company may well be able to backtrace, and then they run the risk of being found. In other words, this type of security will means they are unlikely to bother hacking you.