Connecting to a free Wi-fi? Beware! Your browsing activity can be observed and even misused easily.
Free Public WiFi is sure a blessing since you don’t have to pay for anything, save your data privacy and safety!
According to the Norton Wifi Risk Report approximately 87 per cent of people have put their personal information at risk while using Public Wifi. And nearly 53 per cent of people cant tell the difference between secure or unsecured networks.
Although the free internet access points are a boon. more so for those who travel often or frequent cafes and restaurants.
Airports, Railway Stations, Bus Stands and several hot spots that are now available in our city too.
This certainly helps ease access to the internet but what most of us fail to realise is that, using these networks are not necessarily safe.
We at Pune365 spoke to experts on Staying Safe when you using a public wi-fi network.
1. Pick networks selectively, for security reasons stick to Wi-Fi networks offered by reputable, well-known companies and brands wherever possible, and avoid any Wi-Fi network that appears to have sprung up out of nowhere.
2. Prefer Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) encrypted sites. You can check if the website uses https. in the URL space. HTTPS is the protocol over which the data is exchanged between your browser and the website that is connected to.
If the sites you’re surfing are not https-encrypted, the hacker will be able to see everything you’re seeing. And most of the sites still aren’t – out of the top 100 most popular sites, only 25 use encryption by default. Sites with https. encryption are more private and can be kept as confidential. So, when on free Wi-Fi stick to https websites.
3. Use a VPN (virtual private network) as this creates a secure connection so that your public wi-fi connection is protected. You can find out more about VPN logs here. Using a VPN reduces the risk of exposing your private data to threats to some extent. More importantly, buy a VPN. Do not install a pirated version of any VPN application. You should instead consider getting a vpn to protect yourself that is well worth the money.
4. Keep your Wi-fi off when not in use! Though the risk factor is not huge in this case, but any hacker can try to access your phone through a bogus router. Also keeping your WiFi off when not in use saves your phone’s battery.
An expert who wished to stay anonymous says, There is no Wi-Fi service that cannot be hacked into.
The problem is not the public wi-fi, as it is often the user who isn’t proficient with technology. A hacker standing next to him can steal his username, OTP and password. These are common pitfalls for public Wi-Fi all over the world.
It is advisable to refrain from doing any banking transactions while using a Public Wi-fi.
“Perform browsing or any other actions in private windows such as incognito window featured in chrome browser”, says Neeraj Patane,Software Engineer.
It is advised to install a good antivirus software on your laptop or mobile. Do not perform save passwords action while logging into gmail and other sites. Ideally, logout after using the network. Do not leave the devices unattended for a long time, the expert adds.
“We are in a generation that is obsessed with the internet. Why pay for the internet when you’re at public place right?” says Abhishek Kondvillkar, student.
I almost use every Public Wifi, be it a cafe or railway station. Although i feel the speed is slow, I still really thank the government for the smart city plan.
Risk is evolved but it depends on the person using it too. Living in the world of technology people should be aware of the dont’s while using Public WiFi
“I would rather spend money to keep my data safe, rather than risking it to connect to a Public Wifi.”, says Aditi Panchal, student.
Data plans have become cheaper, thanks to the huge drop in data rates and the fierce competition in this space and quite a few people choose to stick to using their mobile internet data.
Although not all locations have good networks, but limiting the usage of Public Wi-fi (without appropriate safety measures) or not using it at all, could be one step towards securing your private information she adds.
The rule of the game is obviously clear. Use public wi-fi networks at your peril. And when you do, ensure you have all the safety requirements in place. It is your data after all!
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