Public Wifi – it’s something we all know and love. Who doesn’t love getting the little pop up on their phone or computer that says there’s an available public wifi network? But are people potentially falling into a trap that could put their personal information at risk? 

While there are many dangers to keep in mind when using a public wifi network, we’re here to share five of the most common dangers of using public wifi and some tips to help you stay safe when using a public wifi network.

Danger #1: Password & Username Vulnerability 

Keeping up with a ton of passwords sounds difficult, right? Because of that, people tend to use the same password across many websites. While it’s the easy thing to do, this leaves you extremely vulnerable for cybercriminals to hack into your accounts. The best fix to this problem? A password manager. At IronTech Security, we love 1Password! It’s extremely secure and easy to use. Password managers are an awesome way to keep track of all of your usernames and passwords. The only thing you need to remember when using a password manager is a master password. It’s that easy! When using a password manager, you get to choose the length of the password, how many symbols, letters, and numbers you want in the password. This makes it unique to you!

Danger #2: Fake Wifi Networks 

Fake wifi networks are a danger when traveling or in a new place like a coffee shop or McDonald’s. If you connect to a fake wifi network, your information is more than likely going to be stolen. There’s plenty of tips to keep yourself safe from fake wifi networks. One useful tip is by deleting any public wifi networks your devices might be connected to. Our devices (laptop, phone, tablet) tend to remember login information, as well as other settings, like wireless networks. Be diligent about making sure your devices aren’t automatically connecting to these networks. 

Another extremely helpful tip is to keep your wifi turned off when not using it. If you happen to leave your wifi on after using a fake wifi network, cybercriminals are still able to do damage. They have been given a gateway (the wifi connection) and they aren’t afraid to use it. As a cybersecurity company, we suggest the best way to protect yourself from fake wifi networks is to use a VPN. Virtual private networks are a secure way to get on the internet and make sure that all of your online activity is encrypted.

Danger #3: Distribution of Malware Over An Unsecured Wifi Network 

Generally, fake wifi networks are configured to transfer malware onto your devices. The malicious software installs itself and it will stay there even after you aren’t using the fake wifi network. This malware can steal anything off your devices meaning they could be stealing your personal information or even banking information.

Danger #4: Snooping & Sniffing 

This danger is also related to the distribution of malware over an unsecured wifi network. After the malware is distributed over the fake wifi network, many things can happen. Hackers can steal passwords, usernames, payment information, or social security numbers. Anything that is remotely sensitive is beneficial to a cybercriminal.

Once that malware is installed, hackers are secretly snooping around your computer and phone getting any piece of information that could be potentially useful. This snooping and sniffing can go on for a while until someone specifically looks for malware and removes it.

Danger #5: Man in the Middle Attacks

Man in the middle attacks are an eavesdropping attack where a hacker intercepts and modifies data from a user (usually stealing it for malicious reasons) before sending the data to the actual wifi network. This kind of attack is most prevalent with public wifi because you never know who is interfering with your wifi connection on public networks.

Check out our infographic on The Dangers of Public Wifi Here.