The Dangers of Public Wi-Fi and how to avoid them

Categories:

Nearly all of us use smart devices such as phones or tablets as well as laptops for work and pleasure. Everyone loves a café or town centre offering free Wi-Fi. Great – this is normally faster and cheaper than using up that precious 4G data.

However, you should be aware that your data can be captured in two ways. This article explains them and offers a solution below.

Sniffing or Capture

You are sharing this Wi-Fi with anyone else connected to it. This means they can “sniff” or capture your internet traffic, writing it to a file that they can inspect and possibly decrypt later. Some of your traffic will be encrypted, some of it won’t.

Fake Wi-Fi point

The other danger is the fake Wi-Fi point. This works by somebody using a smartphone or laptop with a similar Wi-Fi name to the café you are in. You connect to the fake Wi-Fi point (believing it to be the legitimate café Wi-Fi) and then you do your online banking. Before you realise it or not, your bank credentials are lost – possibly sold to the highest bidder. Software to create Wi-Fi points is freely available and does not demand expert knowledge.

Solution

The happy news is that both of these issues can be avoided by using a virtual private network (VPN). In essence a small app or piece of software encrypts your traffic from your device to the endpoint on the internet where your VPN comes out onto the internet in a country of your choosing. These services are available to purchase for single or multiple devices and are a valid business expense. Many companies offer VPNs; search online or look here https://uk.pcmag.com/vpn/138/the-best-vpn-services to find the best fit for you. Make sure they have software available for all your device types of operating system.

Do check more than one provider as they have special offers from time to time. I secured a three year deal for up to 5 devices for £82 in March 2019 from Nord VPN

You can, of course, use this software on your home Wi-Fi as well. It also has the benefit that your browsing and emails are invisible to your internet service provider.

For details on how to improve your home Wi-Fi security for free please read this previous article : https://djinn-consulting.co.uk/the-perils-of-home-wi-fi/