Free Wi-Fi is something almost everyone uses currently and has become used even more due to the data caps on cell phone plans. Places like restaurants, hotels, and many other establishments offer free Wi-Fi while you enjoy your stay at their place of business, but these free Wi-Fi networks are usually very insecure. Before I go into the danger of free Wi-Fi let me explain to you the difference between secure and insecure wireless connections.
A secure wireless network means that to join your device (tablet, smartphone, or laptop) to the wireless you need the password to the wireless network. For example, where you work has a secure wireless and only machines allowed by the network administrator are allowed or your home where you only allow family and friends on your network.
These places are secure and for the most part, places were using your device is safe and free of information scanners that might get data off your device. Some home routers even have a guest and a secure wireless connection this is called a segmented network. What that means is if a friend would say come over for drinks you could give them the guest password to your Wi-Fi while your work laptop is upstairs on the secure Wi-Fi. This means that whatever happens on your work laptop cannot be affected by your friend’s device if it should have a virus or something that could cause harm to your laptop.
Unsecured wireless is basically the hotel wireless, café wireless, or bar wireless system. These are places that have no password on their wireless and let anyone who wants to connect to them here is how these networks are dangerous.
Say you decide to go out to the bar and the reception on your phone is not the best and you decide to connect to the wireless so you can surf the web while you are waiting for your food. While surfing the web you check in on Facebook then go to Instagram to check on photos then you check on your orders on Amazon you have coming.
A skilled hacker could sit two seats or more away hooked up to the same network running a network scanner. A network scanner reveals vulnerabilities on devices on a network that pose a serious risk to security regardless of Firewall or AV. A vulnerability is a system weakness that can be exploited by a hacker, to get unauthorized access to an electronic device.
Let’s say you’re running an outdated or old version of Android which has a security vulnerability that lets the attacker see your network data you can now become a target. This kind of thing does happen on both Android and iOS remember a smartphone is a computer. Security vulnerabilities get found all the time and hackers know about them quickly some of the best places to use them are places with free Wi-Fi. Sometimes hackers hang out in the parking lots of places with free Wi-Fi, so no one notices them.
I have even seen where hackers themselves set up free Wi-Fi just so you connect to them so they can try and hack your phone or computer. It’s so important to stay off free Wi-Fi as it can cause you some serious headaches.
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