Public Wi-Fi and network security

Public Wi-Fi and network security

Whether in a restaurant, at the train station or in a shopping mall - public Wi-Fi hotspots allow us to browse the Internet for free, check e-mails, use social media and even check our account balance. But does public Wi-Fi offer security while browsing? In this article we will take a closer look at the so-called hotspots and present some practical tips that can contribute to more security on the World Wide Web.

Private or public network - the difference simply explained

The difference between a private network and a public network is in the type of access, security and control over the network. A private network is usually an internal network set up in a household or educational institution. Private networks are usually protected by firewalls and other security mechanisms and allow users to securely exchange information within the network. They provide greater control over access rights and allow administrators to monitor traffic and adjust security settings.

Public networks, on the other hand, are designed for general access and are available in public areas such as cafes, airports, libraries or hotels. This type of network is often unsecured or has a minimal level of security. Access to public hotspots is usually free and does not require login or authentication, allowing the user to easily and quickly connect to the Internet. However, the public nature of these networks also means that traffic can potentially be intercepted by other users on the network.

Public Wi-Fi - security and dangers

Thanks to the public Wi-Fi, we can browse online comfortably on the go, but it also brings a number of potential dangers. Because public networks are often unsecured, this allows cybercriminals to steal sensitive information such as

· Usernames
· Passwords or
· Credit card details.

Common methods include, for example, so-called man-in-the-middle attacks, in which a hacker is positioned between two communication partners and reads, intercepts or manipulates the data traffic unnoticed. In addition, cybercriminals can create fake Wi-Fi hotspots that give the appearance of being secure to trick unsuspecting users into connecting to them. The attackers often use the unsecured networks to install malicious software on the user’s device.

This opens the door to phishing attacks and the theft of personal data.

Public Wi-Fi - tips for more security

Public Wi-Fi networks are potential gateways for hackers to access personal data and confidential information. Below are a few tips on how to improve security in public Wi-Fi.

Using a virtual private network (VPN)

A VPN is an effective tool to protect your own data while using public Wi-Fi. It encrypts the connection, redirects traffic through a secure server, and thus provides protection against hackers. It is important to ensure that you use a reliable and trustworthy VPN on public networks and activate it before using it.

Using an anonymous search engine

Using an anonymous search engine on public networks can contribute to more security and privacy on the Internet. Anonymous search engines encrypt the connection and anonymize search queries, ensuring that our activities on the public Wi-Fi cannot be monitored or intercepted by third parties.

Avoiding sensitive activities

It is best to avoid sensitive activities such as online banking or entering credit card information via public Wi-Fi. This confidential information could be intercepted by attackers, leading to financial losses and identity theft. Instead, wait until you connect to a trusted network. Alternatively, you can use a cellular connection, which is usually more secure.

Updating devices and applications regularly

All devices and applications should be kept up-to-date to benefit from the latest security patches and updates. Updates often close known security gaps and strengthen defenses against potential cyberattacks. It's a good idea to activate the automatic update function on devices - this ensures that you don't miss any important updates.

Disabling automatic Wi-Fi connections

Many devices are set to automatically connect to available Wi-Fi networks. By disabling automatic connections to public hotspots, you minimize the risk of falling victim to phishing attacks.

Using the private browsing mode

Another way to protect our online activities in a potentially insecure network is to enable private browsing mode. As soon as one closes the browser, it deletes history data, cookies as well as other temporary data. This prevents sensitive information from being stored on the device, which is especially important when we are on a public network shared by other users.

Public Wi-Fi - security while browsing

Undoubtedly, public Wi-Fi offers a convenient way to browse on the go. Nevertheless, caution is advised when using unsecured networks. By following the presented tips and proven security practices - such as using a VPN, anonymous browsing, avoiding sensitive activities and regularly updating our devices - we can increase our security when browsing on public Wi-Fi networks.