Public Wi-Fi: What You Need to Know

Technological advancement has presented a wide array of options for people to do work and manage businesses. In today’s digital and employment landscape, you can perform work tasks in the taxi, train, office, airport, airplane and other public spaces just as long as the Wi-Fi connectivity is good. But while you can take work anywhere you want and anywhere convenient, the chance of cyber breach also increases, especially when working outside the secured walls of your office bubble. 

Most of us have a cellular plan that enables internet usage without relying on public wireless access points. However, sometimes if not most of the time, we continue to use public Wi-Fi when it is available. When you are in hotels, restaurants, or airports, how often do you use your data plan to access the internet? Mostly never when the public Wi-Fi accessibility is good. But did you know the risk involved with using public wi-fi and the false protection it provides?

Risks of using public Wi-Fi

According to studies, most users neglect the privacy threats of public Wi-Fi access because some breaches are not life-altering incidents. Moreover, some public Wi-Fi (if not most), do not offer encryption which means that someone else can easily monitor and eavesdrop on your online activities and gain access to personal and work information.

If you do not own a business and think that using public Wi-Fi only implicates firms and organisations, you are wrong. Hackers are also mining personal information that can be used for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to targeted advertising, identity checks, web analytics, and personalisation. So yes, even if you do not own a business and do not perform sensitive transactions over public Wi-Fi, hackers can still prey on and profit from your details. Some known data leaked through public Wi-Fi are usernames, mobile numbers, emails, and user id. And sometimes, there is no way for users to know to what extent their privacy is revealed.

How to safely use public Wi-Fi

Zinon IT Solutions clients and companies that are using Desktop-as-a-Solution (DaaS) can securely access data and application even when using public Wi-Fi. DaaS is highly encrypted and monitored in real time and with the latest malware and anti-virus protection too. However, if your company is not utilising DaaS, there is still a way for you to safely conduct business and work in public spaces using public Wi-Fi facilities.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) – VPN protects you from cyber encroachment when using a public connection. The VPN creates an “armoured tunnel”, allowing you to safely and securely exchange or transfer information over the internet. If you are a small business and may not have enough resources to set up a VPN, you can still protect yourself from cyber breaches by not accessing or sending sensitive information when using public internet connection.

Fortunately, a lot has changed over the last years regarding the safety of public Wi-Fi usage. Uniform Resource Locators (URL) are now encrypted with HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure), so you can safely browse through vendor and client websites. However, this does not eliminate any dangers at all. The more public the Wi-Fi you are accessing, the more exposed you are to the wrong elements, who are lurking and waiting for the right opportunity to breach into your network.

Hence, if you are out in public for business capacity, (if possible) use the mobile hotspot provided by your mobile carrier because no one is safe from using a public unencrypted network – you are better safe than sorry.