Using public Wi-Fi can be dangerous, security experts warn, as cybercriminals increasingly use free hotspots to steal personal information from users connected to them.
Although the use of 3G or 4G data is considered the most suitable means of connection, there are times when the mobile phone signal does not allow it, so a public Wi-Fi is an inevitable solution.
In these cases, following the steps suggested by ESET, users can be confident they will choose the most reliable and secure hotspot.
Check the authenticity of the network before logging in
The worst thing you can do is to think that a Wi-Fi network is safe without first checking it. One general rule is that we do not connect to any network called ‘Free Wi-Fi’, as even if it is not a malicious hotspot, it may be required to subscribe to a newsletter or to be required to watch ads.
Mark James, Security Specialist of ESET, says:
“If it’s a shared place (coffee shop, McDonalds, etc.), ask one of the staff for the right WiFi name – do not just connect to the first network you see.”
What to do after you log in to a public hotspot
First, make sure that the sharing mode is turned off· look for the relevant setting depending on the device and the operating system you are using. Most browsers offer the HTTPS enabled (safe browsing) option by default, be sure to check that it has actually been activated. Many services -like Google Mail– do this by default, others will show the activation option. In the second case, look for the option in the “Settings” menu of the accounts and turn it on.
If you need to connect to a corporate environment (server, email), use VPN – otherwise, wait until you find a safer connection. Finally, do not use financial and personal data: do not type your credit card details, do not buy anything, do not visit your bank’s website.
Prefer to check email and facebook from your computer
Hackers watch network traffic by waiting for users to type passwords in email and social media accounts. That’s why you’d better log into these accounts from your computer, as you can check if your browser is secure (eg via HTTPS).
Mark James, ESET Security Specialist says:
“I would personally limit my activities to anything that does not require a username and password to sign in, but keep in mind that most smartphone apps will log in automatically.”
If you are sending corporate email or email with sensitive information, it is better to use encryption.
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