We have many options to connect to the Internet today. Networks are available virtually anywhere. Now, this is not always safe and we can have major problems. For this reason, in this article we want to show the 5 main security risks that exist when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network.
Risks of using public Wi-Fi
Let’s think, for example, of a Wi-Fi network that we find in an airport, a shopping center or any public library. We have the option to connect for free, but we really don’t know who might be behind that network. It may even have been created simply for the purpose of stealing our data and scamming us .
They can read your unencrypted messages
The first risk you can run if you connect to a public Wi-Fi is that the messages you send and receive are read, as long as they are not through encrypted applications. It is true that today the main ones like WhatsApp do have end-to-end encryption and this problem is reduced, but not everything we send and receive on the Internet is like this.
What happen? Someone can intercept those messages that are sent unprotected. This is what is known as a Main-in-the-Middle attack. They can basically read anything you send or receive and this includes the passwords themselves as well.
Entering unprotected sites is more dangerous
Something similar happens with pages that are not encrypted correctly. If you’re making a payment, logging in, or just putting anything on a website that doesn’t have encryption, and you’re doing it from a public Wi-Fi network, someone could read all of that and affect your security.
An unencrypted website is one you see in the address bar that starts with HTTP and not HTTPS. The browser itself even warns of this risk and tells us that we are entering a page that may be dangerous. It is more especially if we enter from a public Wi-Fi. However, not all HTTPS pages are secure on Wi-Fi networks.
infect the device
You can also be a victim of viruses and malware in general. This can happen if you use a public network where a connected device has been previously infected. For example a computer that uses an old version of Windows, obsolete and with vulnerabilities. This can lead to a virus “jumping” from one device to another connected to that network.
That is why it is essential to always have protected devices, with a good antivirus and everything well updated. This will prevent any malware of this type from infecting computers.
An intruder in a Wi-Fi router can modify the DNS and cause that, when entering any website, we are redirected to another page . In this way, it could create a fake site that pretends to be to log in to Facebook, in the bank account or whatever, and steal the passwords without us noticing.
This is undoubtedly one of the most important dangers of connecting to a Wi-Fi network outside the home without being protected. Our access codes could be stolen or simply be redirected to any page controlled by the attackers.
Collect personal data
But they can also collect personal data that they can later use in targeted attacks or sell to third parties. On many occasions, when connecting to a public network, a form appears where we have to put the email, telephone number, name…
This data can be used for spam campaigns or include us in lists to carry out cyber attacks. It is one of the risks of registering on public networks.