We’ve all been tempted by the irresistible allure of cheap or free Wi-Fi in coffee shops, cafes, hotel rooms, airports, and club lounges. It’s a great way to save a few bucks on your network data billing, not to mention killing time usefully or conveniently checking up on work and emails. But as the NSA has publicly warned, public Wi-Fi presents one of the greatest vulnerabilities to the security of users of portable and handheld devices. Students who are known to be frequent travelers and users of these resources are therefore advised to be cautious when using public utility Wi-Fi.
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Why Take Precaution Whenever You Are Using Public Wi-Fi?
People, especially travelers and those in a rush, will always choose convenience over security. According to surveys, people, including those who have mobile data connectivity, will still always choose to access the internet over public Wi-Fi given a choice. This is despite the numerous security risks posed by public Wi-Fi networks. And though most public Wi-Fi users will be more confident if password authentication is provided, the measure is still not enough to provide full protection.
Using an unprotected device on public Wi-Fi exposes one to risks such as malware and ransomware attacks and hacking and stealing sensitive financial and biographical information. A hacker doesn’t just expose the victim to loss of personal information. We carry details of the most private and sensitive information on our smartphones and mobile devices; pictures, notes, files, conversations, etc. Our phones, through camera apps, can record audio and video. More elite hacking operations can decode the location of a mobile user. You wouldn’t want to be exposed to all these security risks, especially if you were just going into a cybercafé to check your email.
Types of Cyber Attacks
Criminals can use a variety of methods to deploy malware on portable devices. These include adware, crypto miners, and other basic forms of identity stealing that would otherwise coerce people to download apps or click links. Fake apps can also be deployed by miners who prey on users looking for free downloads. These apps look and feel like the original apps, with similar icons and processes, but the malware negatively affects the user’s phone while, for example, generating ad revenue for the hacker.
Once the user has finished their session in the cybercafé or free hotspot zone, they would naturally assume that everything was safe and that they hadn’t been hacked while the truth was quite contrary. Malware, especially hidden apps, can lodge itself in the root memory of smartphones, and some don’t even have icons, making discovering them quite difficult. Apps can also hide their processes from the Android operating system, although the iOS ecosystem has made it harder for independently developed apps.
- Download From Trustable Sources
Only download things on public wi-fi from trusted sources such as the Apple app store and Google Play. An instant red flag is those standalone or encrypted servers that don’t allow scanning by your antivirus protection. You can also read reviews about specific apps from sites that are not sponsored, such as Reddit. Avoid downloading apps on public Wi-Fi if you can.
- Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows users to communicate via encrypted channels to any other part of the internet. Instead of the user encrypting their own information, the VPN application does it for them and generates random IP addresses. Avoid location hacks by installing a VPN.
- Discern the System Needs of Any Application Before You Install It
Some apps need access to your camera and microphone, while for other apps, your phonebook and keypad might suffice. In addition, malware can easily be identified through app installation requirements that make little to no sense.
- Always Perform Security Checks on Your Device After Using Public Wi-Fi
Run a security check on your device immediately after using public Wi-Fi just to be safe. Also, check carefully any prompts generated on your device to ensure that everything is tip-top.
- Avoid Financial Transactions or Sending Large Amounts of Personal Data Across Public Wi-Fi
Financial transactions usually require inputting of passwords, pins, and other security keys that can easily be exposed across affected networks. If you must do a transaction on public Wi-Fi, ensure to use a VPN or use two-factor authentication to avoid any chances of hacking.
Public Wi-fi poses a unique challenge to users who must balance between their convenience and security. Quick access makes it more appealing than spending significantly on pre-paid or post-paid mobile data or fiber-optic and satellite internet access. Students will not only benefit immensely from putting these above tips into practice. A company such as topessaybrands.com can help students balance their load of time by completing academic assignments on time.