Free Wi-Fi at last, but do you know the risks of free Wi-Fi?
Everywhere we go we want to stay connected. One of the first things people ask when they arrive is “do you have free Wi-Fi?" It’s certainly convenient while you’re at a restaurant, waiting for your car at the repair shop or just having a coffee, but what a lot of people don’t know is that this kind of free access can be pretty risky.
So, what are the risks of using free Wi-Fi? We’ll answer that question and give you some tips so you can keep your devices safe.
Know the risks of free Wi-Fi networks and their invisible threats
When you use Wi-Fi at home you normally have the protection of a security protocol such as WEP, WPA, or WPA2. You also have a security password that is not shared with the general public. However, when we talk about free Wi-Fi, there is no such control. More than likely there is no password, and if there is one it is available to anyone and everyone. That doesn't sound safe, right?
Essentially, anyone can access the network, including hackers and those looking to steal data or spread malware. And that is precisely why free Wi-Fi networks are risky. Think of it this way, you go to the gas station and use your credit card to pay. What if the credit card machine has a credit card skimmer that records the information of each credit card used? A similar vulnerability exists with free Wi-Fi. Someone can access the network and gain access to everyone else accessing the network. This means a malicious user can invade your computer, or simply "see" all the data you send to the internet -- such as credit card and bank account balances.
Keep your operating system up-to-date
It's not possible to be 100% secure from cyber threats, but you sure don't have to make it easy for hackers! One of the best ways to keep yourself more secure is to ensure you update your operating system on a regular basis for both your computer and your mobile phone. Older versions of operating systems become more vulnerable as they lack the latest security updates.
Use your mobile data when accessing sensitive information
Accessing a free Wi-Fi network and then using that network to check your bank account balance, or credit card bill could reveal your bank account password and other sensitive data. Use your mobile phone and its 3G/4G/LTE data connection and avoid the risk of using free Wi-Fi to save a few dollars. Exposing your bank information, and username and password to a free Wi-Fi network is much more risky and could cost you a whole lot more!