It almost feels like second nature when we connect our devices to the complimentary WiFi hotspot offered by our favorite hangout places. Coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants, malls and many other establishments provide internet connection as a form of marketing in a well-intentioned manner. But many do not know that these public hotspots pose a breach in security, as well as privacy invasion.
A cybercriminal can easily capture information from anyone connected on a public hotspot. They can capture anything from confidential emails, important files and passwords, and other personal data you shared or used while connected to the public WiFi.
This information can be used for spying, identity theft, invasion of privacy and even blackmailing. To prevent any of these situations from happening to you, here are some tips to protect you from cyber crimes while using the internet.
Make use of VPN
VPN (virtual private network) is a system that creates a private channel between your device and the server, all the while encrypting any information you have released and received on the internet. Your VPN will make all of your information encrypted. Even the server and the ISP (internet service provider) will not be able to decipher your data.
Do Not Transact Sensitive Data While On a Public Hotspot
Avoid doing any important or information sensitive transactions while you are connected to the public WiFi. Transactions that reveal vital information about you, such as banking matters, should be avoided.
Process those transactions on a safer network like your home network or your own phone data connection. Public hotspots are better used for leisurely online activities like reading an article from your favorite website or checking news.
Use Password Manager
Password managers can help you in creating and retrieving those complex and complicated passwords. These kind of apps will store your important passwords in an encrypted database and calculate them for you on demand when needing to be recovered.
Any hacker that is connected to the same public WiFi you share, can see and pry on your data, including the passwords you typed in.
Observe HTTPS and SSL
If you really need to do something important online while connected to a public hotspot, try to observe if the website is using the HTTPS protocol. HTTPS protocol is the secured version of HTTP and support SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). The “s” at the end means secured. Every transaction or operation done on the website is encrypted.
Bring Your Own Hotspot
You do not need to scour the establishment for public WiFi to get an internet connection. Nowadays, you can bring your own WiFi connection by having a cellular modem. A mobile hotspot has their own cellular battery, an internet connection (usually by a sim,) and can also allow a multitude access. If you treasure your data security and privacy, you won’t think twice about having one.
Opt For Semi-Open Public Hotspot
Semi-open public hotspots are those connections that need passwords, either provided by receipts or by just simply asking. They are usually available in airport lounges, coffee shops, and Office spaces. They are definitely more secure than the WiFi connection that does not ask any form of password because they have SSIDs.
Turn Off Your WiFi
Not turning off my WiFi has happened to me before. My WiFi is always on because it’s a habit of mine, but one time I just automatically connected to a public hotspot without even knowing about it. The scary part is that there are some emails in my outbox that was triggered to be present again. Good thing those emails weren’t information sensitive.
There are far more worse cases that can happen when your phone or any smart devices automatically connects to a public device. It is advisable to turn off your Wi-Fi when not in need to prevent any accidental connection.