Perhaps you use internet hotspots every day without even realising or knowing anything about it. It is essentially “Free Wi-Fi” – Yes, this service we use in public places such as airports, restaurants, coffee shops and even on the street.
They provide the public with free internet access, occasionally using restricted access to certain websites. This is extremely helpful for many people as they can search for nearby hotels, hospitals, taxi phone numbers and many others on apps such as google maps. Additionally people use internet hotspots to login to their personal social media account’s, or their bank accounts and other sites where your confidential information can be compromised. Is this safe? No, why? Because not all users that are joining the shared network have good intentions.
With a simple hack into the access point, a hacker can perform a “Man-in-the-middle” attack using ARP spoofing, DNS Spoofing and other methods which can result in the forwarding of all the packets leaving your device to be sent to the access point through his network interface (reroute) and sniff the packets (containing – your data).
Well, how can your data and privacy be protected when using public Wi-Fi spots? Let’s look at some possible solutions:
By using VPN software your data can be encrypted through “tunnelling” that the software creates to ensure that even if the data is captured, it cannot be read. Even for your phone there is VPN software available for a windows phone, Apple OS and Android.
If you are using a laptop with a Windows OS, unless you turn off the sharing when using public spots, anyone could potentially gain access to data on your computer.
Enable your firewall and ensure that you have selected the option that you are in a public place; this way the system knows to automatically increase the security level of your firewall settings.
Always use websites with SSL (HTTPS) when dealing with sensitive information, as encrypted data is hard to decrypt as this process takes a long time, in case someone has the correct equipment to “break it”.
There are paid and free software available that offers a combined VPN and Proxy service; they secure the connection using a Tunnelling Protocol. Modern software is also available that offers different IP proxy-VPN gateway’s, one example is the easy hide IP:
Finally, protection of our data and privacy must be considered a priority, especially when using the Wi-Fi hotspots. From your home network, while your ISP may provide you with a modem-router that may have a secure Wi-Fi password, sometimes this is not enough. Even from your home network, you need to consider your online confidentiality. The worst thing is when home users feel they cannot be exposed, but it is not always the case. Even from home networks, it is important to consider the above security suggestions to reduce the risk of your data being compromised. Some people who are aware of the risks involved with internet usage and sensitive data often use hardware firewalls, software firewalls and VPN services in order to avoid the unexpected.