Thursday, April 18, 2024

Threats on Public Networks: How to Use Them Safely

Navigating through the web can seem like a minefield. It looks like new threats emerge daily, and people need to follow strict rules to keep themselves safe.

However, there are occasions when users engage in suspicious activities and disregard basic cybersecurity tips. Public Wi-Fi spots are one of the menaces that nearly everyone uses. However, what happens when you connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi spot?

Because COVID-19 initiated a revolution in the way people work, many enterprises feel comfortable moving online for longer than expected. However, the sudden shift to remote work left many employees struggling to maintain the same level of security at home.

Usually, people are not eager to protect their home networks. Instead, they keep the default router passwords and fail to use powerful anti-virus programs.

Sadly, connecting to unsecured networks can have grave consequences for both the employee and the company. Let’s see how unsecured connections can compromise security and privacy. Also, let’s look for ways to solve these issues in cost-effective ways.

Risks of Using Public Wi-Fi

The most important thing you should know about using public networks is that there is usually no encryption.What does this mean? Anyone with relatively basic technical skills can prepare an intrusive device, to spy on people connected to public Wi-Fi spots.

Such hackers can monitor your activities. If you make bank transactions, the crook can see the credentials you type.

Thanks to unsecured networks, we have the infamous man-in-the-middle attacks (MitM). Hackers can use their devices and configure them to act as access points between you and the public network.

All of your data will go through the cybercriminals’ access point. You will be giving away all your passwords, usernames, and credit card information without even knowing it.

A hacker can also install malware on your computer or smartphone to delete or steal data stored on your local storage. All of this does sound scary, but there are several tricks you can use to boost your cybersecurity even when using public Wi-Fi spots.

Don’t Use Sharing Features

Windows 10 has done a great job streamlining various activities for the average user. When it detects Wi-Fi, and you choose to connect to it, you will be prompted to select whether it is a public or private network you are connecting to. If you choose Private, you are automatically turning off file sharing. File sharing enables hackers to steal sensitive data from your computer.

You can easily check your settings. Click on your active internet connection and choose “Properties.” Under “Network profile,” make sure that “Public” is turned on. Congratulations, You’ve just added your first security layer while on a public network.

Use Internet Security Suites

An Internet Security Suite is software that offers more protection than a simple anti-virus solution. With one of the best suites active on your computer, you will be able to use public networks and stay safe. Why? Because an internet security suite comes with a comprehensive range of cybersecurity tools, anti-virus included.

Most of these tools include features for safer online banking, industry-grade defense against ransomware, web protection, intelligent adaptive protection, dark web monitoring, etc. What’s even better is that you can leave these tools on autopilot, and they will still be able to protect you around the clock.

Use a VPN

A VPN is one of the best solutions for those of you working on public and unsecured networks. It stands for Virtual Private Network. VPN services deliver umbrella-like protection because they act as your bridge to the internet. A VPN encrypts all your web traffic, protecting it from being modified or stolen in transit. Even if someone manages to spy on your connection, the data will be useless to the intrusive party.

A VPN also hides your real IP address to allow you to browse the internet anonymously. While thousands of people activate VPNs on their computers, smartphones might be neglected in this area. However, there are many affordable or even free options for making sure that your smartphone is immune to prevalent spying strategies. Even a free VPN on a phone can include encapsulation, encryption, access to geo-restricted content, and unlimited bandwidth.

Updates Can Make a Huge Difference

Software applications are not foolproof; they can contain a variety of vulnerabilities. Most of these bugs are benign, but hackers can exploit some of them. Cybercriminals use these backdoors to steal data, install ransomware, or take complete control of your online accounts. Software companies are aware of such threats. So, most of them release updates regularly.

These updates and patches bring new features and improve the old ones. They also fix all the detected bugs that can be used as exploits, which brings us to you and your being on public networks. Make sure that all the devices you use, including your smartphone and tablet, are regularly updated. Most of the new operating systems have an auto-update option; feel free to enable it.You won’t have to worry about manually updating your system and apps.

By following these simple tips, you will be able to take your digital privacy to the next level. Instead of being worried about your security, you will have the privilege of browsing at ease. The more security layers you add to your devices, the better. You will be able to hide your identity online and keep your data and online account credentials safe and sound.


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