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Public Wi-Fi – what are the risks?

30th August 2022
You’re in a shopping centre waiting for your partner to finish using the bathroom, so you decide to have scroll through Facebook, check your emails, a bit of social media, and login to your banking app. But, instead of using your data, you decide to use the free public Wi-Fi – what could possibly go wrong?

In fact, a lot could go wrong. Public Wi-Fi (the free internet usually available at shopping centres, airports and other public places) is renowned for having lax, or no cyber security. This means, by logging in, you’re putting your device and sensitive data at risk from a number of different attacks, including:

Man in the middle attacks

A MitM (man in the middle attack) is when your connection to free Wi-Fi is intercepted by someone else. This means, that whatever data you type into your phone, such as passwords, PINs etc. are freely available to people with criminal intentions.

Malware

Unsecured networks, such as the free Wi-Fi found in shopping centres and airports etc., are the perfect place for cybercriminals or hackers to distribute malware. Once this malware gets into your device, you risk all sorts of issues, including data loss and being locked out of your device.

Worm attacks

This one sounds like the tile of a classic horror film, and for those affected by a worm attacks, in the cyber sense, it can be pretty horrific. Unlike a regular virus, a worm doesn’t require a program to attack, and can actually travel from one device to the next using the an unsecured Wi-Fi network.

Staying safe on public Wi-Fi

Although it has its dangers, public Wi-Fi can be a great resource and can be used safely by following a few simple rules, including:

Only use sites using HTTPS – This means the site has an encrypted link between the site and your device that usually can’t be intercepted.

Log out of accounts when you’ve finished using them – This will help prevent cyber criminals hijacking your account.

Use a VPN - A VPN allows you to use public Wi-Fi from a secure server.

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JamCrackers is one of Bedfordshire's leading IT support services and cyber security experts, working with businesses of all sizes across all sectors. and