Suppose while returning from your office and your boss asks you to share some confidential files Urgently. You go over to the nearest coffee shop, connect to the coffee shop public Wi-Fi, and share your Boss’s files. You and your boss are satisfied with your work. Still, another person is sitting at a table connected to the same Public Network. He has your company’s confidential files with everything you used on that Coffee Shop’s Public Wifi using a MITM (Man-In-The-Middle) Attack.
Let’s take a look at how to stay safe on public wifi from cybercriminals? But first, let’s look at how a cybercriminal might get access to your information for a better understanding?
How Cybercriminals Steal Your Information?
There are two main types of attacks by which cybercriminals can use shared public WiFi to gain access to your personal information.
Cybercriminals on the Same Network
The Ultimate Objective of any hacker is to access any network where multiple users are connected, making public Wifi’s the top target. Once the hacker gets entry into such a network, he can deploy his malwares or different tactics to get the most information out of all the users.
One of the most common techniques Hackers use is the MITM (Man-In-The-Middle) Attack. They place themselves invisibly in the middle of the user and the router and save all the information you send over the internet. Consequently, they look over all the incoming and outgoing data.
Apart from the MITM attack, there is another type of attack that shares malwares to your device if you have file-sharing or Airdrop service activated and set to Public.
Cybercriminals creating a Fake HotSpot
Another technique used by hackers is to create a fake Wi-Fi HotSpot, luring people into connecting to the Hackers Network by using almost the same WiFi SSID as the originals like “Coffee Shop” and the Hackers SSID might be “C0ffee Shop.”
When you connect to the Hacker’s Network, he can access all of your personal information like social media credentials, business ad financial information if you used any while connected to the Network, and Other Sensitive Information.
Another tactic is that hackers will send you a fake warning message about a software update. If you click on this link, the hacker will push malwares in your system and gain access to all the information saved on your device from your gallery to your call logs; the hacker would be able to access everything.
How To Keep Your Data Safe On Public Wifi
If you can not avoid Public Network, then the least you can do is to take some precautions so that no cybercriminal can get access to your sensitive information.
Only Connect to Known Or Verified Networks
As discussed Before, Cybercriminals tend to create a Similiar Wifi Hotspot with just the minimal changes to attract users to connect to their network so that they can easily steal your information. To be safe from these kinds of cybercriminals, always ask the staff about the exact SSID of their Wi-Fi and make sure that you connect to the same network.
Always ensure turning off your sharing preferences while connecting to public Wi-Fi unless you want to share something with your colleague.
Use HTTPS Only Websites
Ensure that you use HTTPS only websites on all Public and Private networks but specifically on Public WiFi networks. HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) ensures that the data transmitted between your web browser and the destination server is always encrypted.
To check if HTTPS is available on a website, you can look at the URL’s start in the address bar for HTTPS, or browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and many more; you might see a Grey Padlock locked at the start of the URL.
Always Ensure That Firewall Is Enabled
To prevent unauthorized access to your system, you need to enable the firewall. A Firewall might not be enough to block the hacker completely, but it is essential.
A Firewall also protects your device from data-based malware threats. It actively monitors all the incoming and outgoing data packets and checks whether they are safe or not. If a Firewall detects any malicious data packet, it gets blocked by the Firewall. By blocking these kinds of data packets, a firewall protects your computer and safeguards your data from malicious attacks.
Always Ensure That Your AntiVirus Is Updated
Antivirus protects your system from all kinds of malicious attacks by detecting malware that might get into your system while using a shared network. Ensure that your Antivirus is updated to date because, with every update, antivirus makes sure that new types of malicious content can be blocked by updating their libraries.
Whenever Antivirus detects any malicious content, a popup will appear notifying you about the content. Antivirus would have blocked the content in the background until you permit it to be unblocked or deleted.
Use A VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows the user to surf the internet while being Anonymous. It is one of the most useful applications to be safe from cybercriminals while being connected to Public Wifi.
A VPN encrypts all your incoming and outgoing data and protects it by passing the information through an encrypted tunnel from the host to the destination server and back.
A VPN also masks your IP Address over the internet with the Server’s IP Address you route your traffic through, which means that if you are using a VPN from Australia and you route your traffic through a German Server. The Destination host will be viewing the German IP Address; this feature also keeps you anonymous over the internet.
With the advancement in this niche, Companies have developed features like KillSwitch 256-BIt AES Encryption, Split Tunneling, No-Log Policy, DNS/IPV6 Leak Protection, and many more to keep you safe from the prying eyes trying to look over your shoulder. But not all VPNs provide these services; only the paid ones gives you these additional securities.
If you want to surf the web on a public network, ensure that a VPN protects your Personal Information. A VPN that provides a No-Logs Policy makes sure that none of your data leaks to the Cybercriminals trying to follow your trail.
But a VPN would be of no use if malware attacks your device. You had nothing to fight against it like antivirus and a firewall. All the things mentioned above are necessary to ensure that your data is protected while surfing on a public network.