We all know what a wi-fi hotspot is. Even if you’re not a big internet user, we see posters in our restaurants, coffee shops and even libraries. Now a wi-fi hotspot allows us to access the internet from that area but it is more of a “free” type surf compared to your home network for example. So what exactly do I mean by a “free” surf?
Well if you didn’t know, wi-fi hotspots are gold mines to our cyber criminals. You have to think why does your home network have a password? It is to protect your internet and any important information being transferred over the network right? But what about a wi-fi hotspot where anyone can connect to the network? Pretty scary when you view it from that angle!
Great video from Techquickie – but what did we learn?
- If a wi-fi hotspot doesn’t require a password and has no encryption, anyone with basic hacking programs can view all traffic on the network.
- Hackers can view all your traffic even on a password protected wifi if they connect before you do. Reason being is they can steal your encryption key to view all your traffic.
- Hackers may set up their own wi-fi hotspot, make it look real (example: “Starbucks Official Wi-Fi”) and then when you connect, you are in their network being spied on.
So what can you do to help protect yourself from these cyber criminals in public? Well the first most obvious answer is to ensure you are connecting to an official wi-fi hotspot. It is password protected and has encryption. Now although there are ways to still get hacked, this does boost up your protection greatly!
Other ways for the more technical minds include: using a virtual private network (VPN) which creates a secure tunnel from your device and a proxy server which encrypts all traffic. Lastly, try to stick to sites which use ‘https’ connection. You will see this in the url bar (https://www.example.com).