Security and privacy while using public Wi-Fis do not have to be complicated issues. You just have to make sure the necessary protection layers are in place before you actually need them.
The guide below is packed with tips from our cybersecurity experts on how to make sure your personal information stays safe no matter what Wi-Fi network you are using.
Technology is becoming increasingly complex, with so many options, features and layers that can be mind-boggling for techies and non-techies alike.
So let’s start with a setup that is more familiar: the Wi-Fi router that powers your home network. When you understand what an unprotected Wi-Fi means for your own system, it will be much easier to stay safe on any other connections.
When you buy a new router, the manufacturer makes it easy to set up and get going with a set of default settings that mostly involve clicking “next.” However, with these standard options, your router security is either non-existent or set to a minimum.
Here’s what that means:
As you can see, when you leave your Wi-Fi settings to chance or rely on default options, you effectively miss out on a range of features that are critical protection against private data leaks.
When your home Wi-Fi is left unprotected, it can be an easy target for anyone with minimal knowledge of how to exploit it for their own gain.
A cyber-criminal might connect to your unprotected home network and use it to access, download or publish illegal content.
As the owner, you are responsible to make sure your Wi-Fi settings prevent unauthorized access that might result in legal issues.
Having an open wireless connection is a security risk that also exposes any people and devices that use it to cyber-crime and scams. It puts your data at risk of digital identity theft and social media impersonation, and it also makes your close ones vulnerable.
Once a piece of malicious software (malware) makes its way into your network, it can spread to any device that is connected to it. Going further, it can even use your contacts (in your email or phone – or both) to further disperse infected links, phishing emails and even ransomware.
Without strong encryption (like WPA or WPA2), malicious Wi-Fi hackers can snoop in on everything you send and receive across your network. They can intercept your data through an attack called Man in the Middle and do things like send you phishing emails for fake invoices that steal your card information or harvest your online banking credentials as you unsuspectingly type them in.
Another way cyber-criminals abuse unprotected Wi-Fi connections is by infiltrating the network and hijacking accounts you are logged into. If you are using your email or social media account on a device connected to a weak security Wi-Fi, they can use it with full access, just like you would.
Now that you are aware of the risks of having an unprotected Wi-Fi connection, it is easier to see what can happen when you jump onto someone else’s network – whether it is at a restaurant, hotel or even a friend’s router.
There is one more danger to avoid: honeypots. The name may sound cute, but this “honey” is not sweet at all. This term describes a fake access point that cyber-criminals and scammers set up to capture traffic that goes through them. This tactic preys on people’s distraction, their lack of security know-how and their need to access information, often in a hurry.
It is not all bad news, though. Besides choosing optimum router settings for your home network, there’s a simple solution that keeps you safe on every Wi-Fi you use, your own included: a trusted virtual private network like Bitdefender VPN.
If you are looking to improve the security and privacy of your home router, log into the administration panel and:
When you leave your familiar setup, it is essential to have a protective layer that keeps you safe no matter whose Wi-Fi you are connected to.
Learn to stay safe on unprotected networks with these tips recommended by our cybersecurity experts:
The best protection is the one that runs in the background, keeping you safe and productive no matter where you are. That’s why Bitdefender VPN has a feature that notifies you when you connect to an unprotected Wi-Fi network.
This automatically verifies how strong the router’s encryption is and lets you know when it is not secured. Then you are one click away from an ultra-fast, private and secure VPN connection for everything you need to do online.
If you want to put your protection on autopilot, you can set Bitdefender VPN to automatically turn on when an unsecure Wi-Fi is detected. With this simple setting, you can go about your day without having to worry that the data you are sending and receiving over Wi-Fi is exposed to intrusion, interference or cyberattacks.
Using a secure VPN to protect your digital activity and the sensitive data it involves is just one way of making the most of it. Find out how a good VPN can make your digital life safer and more flexible when you use it like a pro.