Free WiFi at cafes, airports, restaurants and even in city streets is a godsend for anyone travelling and wanting to stay in touch.
But how many people take an extra step to make sure their browsing is not only convenient, but also safe?
According to an online security company, NordVPN, although online scams are increasing, a large percentage of WiFi users don’t take the most basic precautions to avoid getting sucked in.
Common ways that hackers can take advantage of an unprotected WiFi hotspot include:
- The honeypot WiFi. The hacker positions himself as a WiFi hotspot – the so-called honeypot WiFi. But an unsuspecting user ends up sending their sensitive information, such as credit card details, to a hacker instead of to a legitimate WiFi provider.
- Wireless sniffers. Hackers use “sniffers” – software designed to intercept and decode data when it is transmitted over a network. Sniffers are legitimately used by IT specialists to monitor the health of a network, but when a sniffer falls into the wrong hands, it can be easily used to filch private data.
- Shoulder surfing. When an Internet user finds themselves in a crowded coffee shop or an airport, there might be data thieves lurking around, who will watch over a shoulder to memorise passwords or credit card information.
Savvy travellers can protect themselves in the following ways:
- Make sure no one is looking over a shoulder when going online at a public WiFi spot.
- Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN service encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a device, thus hiding the user’s IP address.
- Use a firewall. Make sure the firewall is turned on before going online, especially on a public WiFi spot.
- Disallow automatic wireless network connection. This will prevent hackers from automatically connecting to your device.
- Systems settings should not be set to public. This helps prevent anyone from finding and accessing your device.