Should I use public Wi-Fi?

When internet is available everywhere like your local cafe, airport or at a hotel you stay at, it gives us great flexibility to work from anywhere we want and we often don’t even think twice about connecting. But is it a good idea to connect to these networks and is it secure?


The dangers of public Wi-Fi

free wifi leaves you susceptible to bad actors

There are a number of ways in which bad actors can scam or steal information from you when connected to public networks.

Not only do you need to trust the people who maintain and setup the network, you also need to trust all of the users who are currently on that Wi-Fi network.

It’s frighteningly easy for an attacker to set up a fake wireless network with the name of the cafe you’re at or the hotel you’re staying in. Something that looks like a genuine wireless network could be set up to steal personal information.

For example you could be redirected to a fake banking website and without thinking you would enter your details. This would expose your credentials to the scammers, allowing them to capture it for their own malicious activities.


Wi-Fi networks without passwords

maccas wifry

You should be particularly cautious of wireless networks which don’t have any password security. This means that your information may be transmitted over wireless without any encryption, unless the website that you are visiting is a HTTPS website.

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transport Protocol. It is the way your web browser reads the website over the internet. HTTPS is the same, but the S stands for Secure.

When you see https://, the website content is being encrypted before it gets sent to your browser. This means any communication between you and the intended party (for example, the bank) is kept secure away from any malicious third parties that may be trying to intercept the data.

It’s important to note that if you are already on a malicious website, for example as we mentioned earlier a fake site ‘posing’ as your banks website, it will not matter if the site is HTTPS.


So should you use public Wi-Fi?

is public wifi safe

As tempting as it is to connect to a free wireless network, there is always a chance that external malicious parties could steal your data, so its best to avoid these. At the bare minimum you should only connect to public wireless networks that have been encrypted and require a password for access.

This being said, due to these insecurities mentioned above we would still not recommend using public Wi-Fi.

If you absolutely have to, make sure it’s just to look up basic information. This means you want to avoid giving the network access to your personal information or credentials. So stay away from things like signing into facebook or logging into services which have sensitive information like a bank portal.

Our recommendations when it comes to working remotely

recommendations if you want to work remotely

The best solution to maintain your flexibility and ability to work remotely is to use a personal hotspot.

The options you have for personal hotspots are:

  • A 4G device
  • A pocket Wi-Fi device
  • And if you have the data available – your mobile phone

These will give you the best protection against attackers because it’s an encrypted connection and it is only you using that connection. It makes it much more difficult for eavesdroppers to attack or compromise the connection.

You may have also heard of VPN’s which stands for Virtual Private Networks. These encrypt your data between you and your destination however they do come with their own pros and cons.

In conclusion its best to avoid using public Wi-Fi networks especially those that don’t require you to use a password. If you need help with any of the recommendations mentioned above  or want to learn more about VPN, get in touch! Call us at 08 7070 0900 or email [email protected]

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