Digital privacy expert discusses unsafe public Wi-Fi with hackers in closed online forums
LONDON, March 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — With Koreans returning to cafes, malls and increasingly using buses, trains again, public Wi-Fi has become a golden opportunity for cybercriminals.
“Public places make a good cover for hackers who can easily set up malicious hotspots and steal people’s data. As an example, Mr. Kim, who lives in Seoul, suffered a personal information leak while using public Wi-Fi at a cafe,” says Sungwoo Cho, Korean Country Manager at NordVPN.
Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN, discussed the risks of unsafe public Wi-Fi with a couple of hackers in closed online forums.
What makes public Wi-Fi unsafe
From the NordVPN study, hackers agreed on two common points that can make any public Wi-Fi hotspot vulnerable. These are poor router configuration and a lack of a strong password. They claim it can take a couple of minutes to start peeking at confidential information sent from a device connected to an unsecured Wi-Fi.
If you’re lucky, the snooper may just read your browsing activity. But in the worst-case scenario, they can steal all your sensitive information, including passwords and credit card details.
As your device is constantly looking for trusted Wi-Fi networks, stalkers can use these connection requests to find out where you live. It’s enough to type it on a public website that creates heatmaps of Wi-Fi hotspots, such as Wigle.net.
How to stay safe
Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN, provides some useful tips on what you should do to protect your devices and the information they hold.
- When connecting to a Wi-Fi in a coffee shop or a hotel, always double-check the network name with a member of the staff. Remember, hackers might create fake Wi-Fi hotspots using names that look trustworthy.
- On public Wi-Fi, avoid visiting sensitive websites, logging into your social accounts, and never perform any banking transactions. Public Wi-Fi is best for browsing the internet.
- Enable your firewall. Most operating systems have a built-in firewall, which keeps outsiders from going through your computer’s data.
- Use a VPN (virtual private network). A reliable VPN, like NordVPN, will make sure your online connections are private and no sensitive data can get into the hands of criminals.
- Remember to turn off the Wi-Fi function on your device when not using it.