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Public Wifi: not as safe as you might think

Wifi is such an important part of our lives and people are rarely disconnected from the internet and all its wonders. So it’s great when you find a free Wifi hotspot in your local cafe, pub or hotel and you can check your emails and fritter away your time on Facebook… or is it?

Using public Wifi is not like using your internet and Wifi at home, it comes with its own host of issues.

What is Wifi?

WiFi stands for Wireless Fidelity, it works using radio frequencies (Gigahertz) to send signals between devices. Most people will have a WiFi router in their home and many PCs, laptops, tablets and phones have a WiFi chip in them which enables them to connect to the internet wirelessly via the the internet to send and receive information.

Types of free Wifi

danger-free-wi-fi

As a rule there are two types of free wifi; ad-hoc networks and traditional access point networks.

Traditional access point networks are where you are connecting to a central router, like in your own home. This is not secure by and means, however, ad-hoc networks are particularly vulnerable, they connect all the devices accessing the network to one another. This essentially means that you are connecting to a computer and your computer/ phone/ tablet is then also enabled to broadcast the free wifi to other people around you. This means your information is seriously vulnerable. So when you see a sign for “Free Public Wifi” then you need to proceed with great caution¬† as this is probably an ad-hoc network.

What are the risks?

So what are the risks? Well, any information that you send or receive over that open Wifi connection can be accessed by someone if they have the intent and have done a bit of research. This means if you send emails, log into your bank account or anything of the like then these people can access that information. There is also opportunity for them to plant software and viruses on your PC.

How do I protect myself?

As with anything, being aware of a problem helps to keep us safe. Be cautious when using a public WiFi connection.

1. Do not carry out tasks like banking and making purchases

2. If you need to access the internet in a public space then avoid the public and unsecured networks and pay for a secure connection

3. If you need to check your emails don’t do it through an app – do it through your web browser and make sure that it says https rather than http in the address bar before the www. this means the connection is secured and much safer.

4. Ensure your antivirus and firewall protection is up to date.

5. If you want maximum security on public Wifi networks then use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

 

If you love to travel as much as we do then don’t let internet security hold you back! If you would like more information or help with Wifi, Antivirus or VPN’s then please do not hesitate to get in contact with us via itc@itcweb.co.uk or call 023 8024 9820

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