How Secure Are Public Networks?

April 16, 2021

How Secure Are Public Networks?

We’ve all used public WiFi here and there whether it was at an airport, a coffee shop, restaurant, mall, hotel, or any other public space. Free convenient public WiFi is accessible in spaces like these globally, but they may be doing more harm than good.


Public WiFi networks typically have little to no security in place allowing the provider to operate at super low costs. This means users are at risk of cyber threats and cyber risks through the network. 


While using a public or open network, there is the possibility for someone else on the same network to gain access to your device and data. With that said, it’s crucial to avoid logging into financial, government, and other confidential accounts while on public WiFi as well as making online payments as this could lead to some major breaches in your systems.



What’s The Difference Between Public and Private Networks?


As we spoke about earlier, public networks are open to anyone and they have little to no security in place. Some public networks require a password to enter as you might have experienced in a specific cafe or hotel, and while this adds a tiny bit of added security, anyone on that network still has the ability to infiltrate your systems.


If we look at private networks, there will be a registered account connected to the network which holds a password and other security measures in place. We’ll typically see private networks in your everyday home. 


Although there is much stronger security in place with private networks, there are still possibilities for network breaches. This is why it is crucial to keep your private network passcode safe and to only share it with people you fully trust.



What To Avoid When Using Public WiFi


If you need to use a public network for whatever reason, ensure you avoid these things:

 

  • Making online payments

 

When you make online payments, you often share personal information such as your name, address, email, phone number, credit card credentials, and much more. 

 

On an unsecured network, you could risk losing this information when making online payments. The best way to avoid this is is to wait until you’re on a secured private network.

  • Accessing sensitive information and data

 

If a cybercriminal is attempting to infiltrate your device through a shared public network and you’re opening confidential financial or government information, there’s a possibility those accounts could get breached. 

 

  • Automatically joining public networks

Some of our device settings may auto-join public networks, and this can be a major security risk as it connects your device to a shared public network with other users and you may not even know it.

  • ‍Keeping your Bluetooth on

 

Although Bluetooth is a useful and convenient tool for connecting different devices together, the connection signals can be intercepted by a potentially malicious actor.

 

 

Overall, we highly recommend using a secured or private network in general, but if you are going to use public WiFi, ensure to follow the tips above. Another thing to consider is using a virtual private network (VPN). This would allow you to use public networks with layered security in place to encrypt your data and maintain privacy.

 

Regardless of if you’re using secured or unsecured networks, you can’t deny the need for proper cybersecurity protection. We can help you with that!

 

Click HERE to find out more.

 


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