What are the risks associated with public Wi-Fi?

ublic Wi-Fi has many security issues. Wi-Fi attacks include karma attack, sniffing, war-driving, brute force attack, etc.

Public Wi-Fi may identify data that is passed through a network device like emails, browsing history, passwords, and credit card data

The Digital push on the back of various government programs and corporate effort for deeper penetration of the policies and products in the masses has made being connected with the world and your workplace an utmost important requirement. While data charges may vary across the globe, organizations, both public and private, are facilitating public Wi-Fi networks to attract citizens and customers alike for their offerings. Tech-savvy generation also looks forward to such arrangements while booking hotels, cafes, tickets in mode of transportation or residential areas. Unfortunately, it opens a lot of vulnerable surfaces too.

“Kaspersky”, one of the world’s biggest players in the field of network and device security, found in a study they conducted that nearly a quarter of world’s public Wi-Fi networks are not encrypted, and are unsafe to connect to. The threats associated with these types of connections can come in various ways, and are mainly classified into the following lines:

Cyber Attacks:

Many organizations have notified their employees to not connect their official devices with any type of public Wi-Fi network outside their office or home, to prevent any gateway for the malwares, spywares and other dangerous content finding their way into devices that may jeopardize the operations of the company.

Data Theft:

Unprotected Wi-Fi network are often hunting areas for hackers who look for a chance of gathering personal, financial, and other data of victims.

Packet Sniffing:

It is an act where a hacker can steal a data or gather information from any other device that is connected to the same Wi-Fi, using a tool called as packet sniffer or packet analyzer. These are not banned tools and are generally used by network administrators for solving various issues, but when in hands of hackers, are a potential threat.

Session Hijacking:

It is an act where a hacker, using the same Wi-Fi network as yours will be mirror the credentials of your device and taking over it after being able to intercept the messages being sent from your device.

Apart from being cautious about using public Wi-Fi networks and following guidelines , use of a “virtual private network” of “VPN” service, that handles the encryption of the data from your side, irrespective of the encryption status of the public Wi-Fi , preventing any intercepting activity.