You know the risk around such a network if you are one of the many wireless networking users who travel and/or uses one of the “hot spots” in the Wi-Fi network. This article helps you to stay healthy when surfing.
There’s a lot of Wi-Fi hot spots these days, free of charge and for pay. Many organizations understand the value of giving their employees free internet access. And there are also places outside business where you can connect to other public meeting sites without needing to, for example, libraries.
However, these hot spots have a problem. Whether it is free or payable, very little offers network protection of any kind. Exceptions can occur, but these hot spots are often not protected or encrypted so that no one can access the network, and anyone can have access to the data transmission!
As a user of an insecure network, it means that anything you send or receive when connected to the network is free and open for anyone to read your transmissions for interception and interpretation.
There is also a risk that criminal kinds might create a wireless alias network in a nearby area, which looks like a safe network, without any form of protection. In a café called “Joe Bob’s Coffee Shop” you might, for instance, be at the airport. See the “Joe Babs Coffee Shop” network for an internet connection. When you go for a café latte you log in and start surfing. You have signed in to a fake network, and you can intercept anything you do – usernames, passwords, account numbers etc., if you look closely.
To defend yourself, there are few things you can do. First of all, do not log in to an unaccompanied network. Check the owner to make sure they provide the service themselves and that a confirmed user username is authenticated. Just wait till you enter another place, if they look like deers in headlights, and they are able to check the protection of the Wi-Fi.
Another move is to build a virtual private network and use it (VPN). A VPN guarantees confidentiality by encrypting all inbound and outbound traffic, even without WEP or WPA air link encryption. It would be gibberish and unreadable without the right cypher to decipher the data even though someone could intercept and read your transmissions.
You can ‘practise healthy surfing’ when you need to get online and can’t set up a VPN. This begins by checking the SSID you are connecting to and ensuring that you are connecting to the exact network. Don’t login if the SSID is anything but the same as that announced on the place in which you live.
Upon signing in, make sure all sensitive traffic is protected through a website. Look for the certificate indicator on your browser and make sure you have a ‘https’ URL designator indicating a safe website for any addresses you exchange information.