Why is free WiFi important

In this way you avoid security risks of public WLANs

Wi-Fi users are at risk from hackers, but luckily there are ways to protect yourself. The proliferation of free public WiFi is a real boon for professionals who travel a lot. With many restaurants, hotels, airports, bookstores, and even some retail stores offering free Internet access, you can access your network and work from virtually anywhere. This freedom comes at a price, however, and few are really aware of the risks of public WLANs. Only by learning how to protect yourself can you keep important business information safe.

The risks of public WLANs

The same quality that makes free WiFi hotspots so appealing to the general public also makes them so appealing to hackers: no authentication is required to connect to the network. This gives hackers almost unlimited access to unsecured devices on the same network.

The biggest security threat in freely accessible WLANs is the possibility for hackers to put themselves between your device and the access point. So instead of communicating directly with the hotspot, you first send your data to the hacker, who then forwards it.

In this way, the hacker has access to all information that you transmit over the Internet: confidential e-mails, credit card details or the access data for your company network. Once they have this information, the hacker can access your systems at will, just like you.

Hackers also use unsecured WiFi connections to spread malware. When you exchange files over a network, it is easy for professionals to get infected software onto your computer. Some resourceful hackers even manage to infiltrate the access point themselves. You will then display a pop-up window while the connection is being established, offering you an upgrade for popular software. One click on this window is enough to install the malware.

With the increasing popularity of mobile WLAN use, it can be assumed that there will be more and more problems with Internet security and an increase in the risks in public WLANs in the long term. However, that does not mean that free WLANs are generally taboo. With the overwhelming majority of cybercriminals looking for easy prey, a few security measures should be enough to protect your confidential information.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network connection (VPN) is essential if you are using an unsecured connection, such as a home office. B. Connect a WLAN hotspot to your company network. Even if a hacker succeeds in intercepting your connection, the data is encrypted with a high level of security with a VPN. And since most hackers are easy prey, they will hardly go to the trouble of laboriously trying to decrypt your data.

Use SSL connections

You probably don't have a VPN connection available for general internet use. However, you can still encrypt your communication. Activate the option “Always use HTTPS” on websites that you visit often or for which you have to enter access data. Don't forget that hackers know the average user's habits of using login credentials and know that many users use the same password for any forum and for your online banking and corporate network. If you submit these credentials in clear, you could open the door to cunning hackers. Many websites that require an account with credentials will have the "HTTPS" option in the settings.

Turn off file sharing

If you connect to the internet using a public connection, you probably don't want to share any of your data with others. Depending on the operating system you are using, you can disable file sharing in the System Preferences or Control Panel, or you can let Windows do this by selecting the “Public” option when you connect to a new, unsecured network for the first time.

Turn off WiFi if you don't need it

Even if you have not established a connection to a network yourself, the WLAN hardware in your device still exchanges data with all networks within range. There are safeguards in place to keep this minimal communication from becoming a threat to you, but not all Wi-Fi routers are created equal and hackers are known to be extremely cunning. If you only work on a Word or Excel document on your computer, you should turn off Wi-Fi. This also gives you a longer battery life.

Provide permanent protection