The Perils of Public Wifi

Airport wifi networkIn today’s 24/7 world, whether you are in the car, on the road, on vacation, out to lunch or dinner or even on a plane, connectivity is assumed. Often getting connected is one of the first priorities when you arrive at a new place, but using a public wifi network carries some risk. The very same qualities that make public wifi the network with access to much of the information that is on your device. When you communicate over the network, others can be listening in….

In addition to eavesdropping, advanced cyber criminals can use their rogue hot spot to connect to your machine and download spy software to your device. This malicious package will capture your activity and communicate it to the bad guys when you are connected to the internet. This kind of attack is a major security risk for businesses, because when you bring your device into your office, you are providing the criminals with priceless information about your corporate networks and data.

Trust is a dangerous element of technology. Just look at the recent Reddit data breach as an example, which fortunately only contained relatively old user PII. Their SMS-based two-factor authentication system was used against them, allowing a threat actors to gain otherwise private information and hashed/salted passwords.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to reduce the threat of being compromised by wifi threats. By taking a few simple actions, you’ll make your information harder for criminals to intercept, and harder for criminals to use. Follow these five steps to safety and you’ll sleep easier.

5 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Risk

CLOSING THE WIFI DOOR

A virtual private network (VPN) connection offers a very high level of security for people who must access networks and servers remotely. VPN connections feature strongly encrypted communications, which makes your information instantly much less desirable for most hackers. VPN should be easy to use, almost all business have VPN options set up for remote workers. If you are not using VPN to connect to your office network, find out more about what your office offers.

USE SSL CONNECTIONS

The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a widely used communications technology that encrypts general Internet browsing. When you are online, look at the URLs of the sites you are using. If they begin with http:// consider them to unsecure. If they begin with https:// they are using the SSL technology to secure your communications. Almost all shopping and banking sites have now implemented SSL.

Most modern browsers automatically prioritize an https:// connection over an http:// connection. However, you should still glance at the address bar in your browser when you are about to enter password or other sensitive information into a log-in or other online form. If you are not in an https:// session, you could be revealing your content to eavesdroppers.

DON’T SHARE! DON’T TRUST!

Sharing is an advanced feature of modern operation systems. When Sharing is enabled, other computers connected to the same network can gain access to information and files that you have saved on your machine. Usually this information must be in specially designated folders. Most times, when you log into a new network for the first time you will be asked characterize the network. The exact question

will vary but it will usually be something like: Trust This Network? (answer “NO”) or what kind of network is this Secure or Public (answer “Public”) Remember, in a public network, why would you want to share anything?!

NOT USING WIFI? TURN IT OFF!

When wifi is turned on – even if you are not logged into a network – your computer or smart device is scanning for available networks. In some cases, your computer or device may automatically connect to the unsecure hotspot network, If you’re don’t need network access, for example if you are working on a document or presentation, turn your wifi off.

STAY PROTECTED

No matter how hard you try to stay secure, it’s likely that sometimes you will be forced to rely on less reliable networks. As a result, you run the risk of uploading a malicious virus, adware, ransomware or other kind of malware. To protect you from harm, make sure you have an antivirus, antispyware, antimalware solution installed and running on your machine. This way, any new files on that are uploaded to your machine (including email attachments, files introduced from an external drive, or direct downloads) will be scanned for safety.



*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from The PhishLabs Blog authored by Alexa Villanueva. Read the original post at: https://info.phishlabs.com/blog/the-perils-of-public-wifi