In recent years, there has been a sporadic increase in the number of free Wi-Fi access hotspots in hotels, malls, airports, and other public places. Nonetheless, this comes with its fair share of risks since public Wi-Fi networks are vulnerable to cyber-criminals whose intention may be to steal users information and spread malware.
The features that typically make Wi-Fi hotspots popular among users also make them popular with cyber-criminals. Free Wi-Fi hotspots do not require any authentication for a connection to be established. This gives hackers a limitless opportunity to access the network whenever they want.
Threats to Wi-Fi Networks
Arguably, the main threat that faces free Wi-Fi hotspots is the fact that hackers can conveniently position themselves between users and connection points. Instead of directly communicating with the hotspot, users will be naïvely sending their information to hackers who then relay that information. These man in the middle cyber-attacks are common in most public Wi-Fi hotspots.
During this kind of cyber-attacks, the hackers have limitless access to all information that you will be sending out over the network. This may include credit card details, your network’s security credentials, and even your private emails. With this information at their fingertips, they are likely to have a field day when accessing your network.
Besides accessing private information, hackers also access Wi-Fi networks with the intention of spreading malware. The risk of malware distribution over your network is particularly high if file sharing across is permitted across the network. Hackers can easily plant infected files on such networks before spreading them to users.
Here’s how you can keep your Wi-Fi networks secure.
How to Keep Wi-Fi Networks Secure?
Activate Network Encryption
Wi-Fi networks generally come with different encryption languages. These include WPA2, WEP, and WAP. WPA2 is not only a security protocol but also a standard in the industry. It encrypts all traffic on your Wi-Fi networks, and is a replacement for the less secure WEP.
WPA2 is an upgrade to WPA. WEP, WPA, and WPA2 make your Wi-Fi networks more secure since they require a unique code to encrypt every block of plain texts. Therefore, activating them goes a long way in securing your network.
You need to use VPN software whenever you connect your devices over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Hackers may still attempt to undertake “man in the middle” attacks but nonetheless, they won’t be successful since your data will be securely encrypted. Hackers typically focus on easy targets and therefore, they are likely to be discouraged from networks that require them to undertake lengthy decryption.
Turn Off Sharing
File sharing over unsecured Wi-Fi networks make it easy for malicious individuals to steal private information and spread malware over the networks. Whenever you use public Wi-Fi hotspots, it is advisable to turn off sharing. This will prevent hackers from accessing your information besides preventing your from receiving malicious files over the network.
Software and hardware firewalls can help you secure your Wi-Fi networks against cyber-criminals. Most wireless routers come with built-in firewalls that protect your network against potential cyber-attacks.
The firewalls add an extra layer of cover against hacking attempts by flagging malicious files sent to your network besides notifying you whenever there is a hacking attempt. Besides this, you also need to have a reliable network security solution installed on your devices so that new files sent to you are scanned as they get downloaded.
Turn Off Idle Wi-Fi Connections
Even if your devices are not actively connected to Wi-Fi networks, the Wi-Fi hardware of the devices will still be transmitting data with open networks within their range. This communication poses a great risk to your devices and therefore, you need to turn Wi-Fi connection off when you do not need it.
You need to take Wi-Fi security seriously to ensure that your devices are protected against cyber-criminals. Any weakness in a public or home Wi-Fi network can expose you to hackers. Keep in mind that even if a Wi-Fi network requires a password, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your activities online are encrypted. Securing your network seals all exploits that cyber-criminals may use to access your data and private information.