Public Wi-Fi: Why It Could Be Really Dangerous & How to Stay Safe

Using public Wi-Fi can be a risky affair, but nothing that cannot be overcome by becoming digitally aware.

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Public Wi-Fi: Why It Could Be Really Dangerous & How to Stay Safe
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The use of public Wi-Fi is slowly and undeniably growing among Indian internet users. But what’s really alarming in such a scenario is the shocking lack of awareness about public Wi-Fi usage among Indians.

This could make them sitting ducks for serious security threats, including phishing attacks that could land their data in the hands of hackers.

But why the need to worry? According to a recent survey, as many as 70% of Indian users prefer using public Wi-Fi for checking their email and sending documents. 

The survey, whose findings have been compiled in the Norton Security Report 2016, focused on individuals in the age group of 18-29 years and based in cities.

Public Wi-Fi services in India are available at airports, cinema halls, cafes and even public parks. You could connect to public Wi-Fi also via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspots or your mobile phone data connection.

Also Read: TRAI Aims for Public Wi-Fi at Rs 20/GB, but Will It Happen Soon?

Clearly, public Wi-Fi usage is gradually gaining ground. But experts say what’s worrying is that Indian users often forget that public Wi-Fi is a digital platform, vulnerable to all the dangers that the digital world is susceptible to.


Problems With Using Public Wi-Fi

Experts point out a widespread but extremely dangerous practice among public Wi-Fi users in India.

When using data (bandwidth) via public Wi-Fi, users connect with Wi-Fi (using a name and password). Whenever they see a password, they think the network is secure.
Ritesh Chopra, Country Manager - Consumer Business Unit, Symantec

However, Chopra points out, stealing data via public Wi-Fi is fairly simple for hackers.

A Linux-based open source tool allows the person to eavesdrop on devices and get details of the user, monitor the device’s activity, and even know what apps they’re using.

Urging internet users in India to be digitally aware, Chopra says that even today, most users in India worry more about virus attacks on their PCs and phones. While in fact, he says, their major concern should be phishing attacks.

Also Read: Accessing Public Wi-Fi: A 5 Step Guide To Keeping Your Data Safe

What's worse, according to the Norton Cyber Security Insights Report, over 40% of users surveyed said they would reveal their identities to access free Wi-Fi internet. The report also says:

Nothing is safe in today’s digital stratosphere, we need to be careful about our actions on the internet.
Ritesh Chopra

How to Use Public Wi-Fi Safely

Whenever you come across a Wi-Fi network that offers too-good-to-be-true internet speeds, make sure that it isn’t a rogue Wi-Fi network.

A rogue Wi-Fi network is one which has been created to ‘trespass’ your device, and is capable of stealing data without your knowledge.

So how do you secure yourself while using public Wi-Fi? While there is no one way to ensure this, the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps on a mobile phone or PC can go a long way in keeping things secure.

Benefits of Using VPN

  • User information is safe (creates a VPN for your device)
  • Privacy on the network
  • Masking device location keeps you untraceable
  • Blocks ads

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Topics:  Hackers   Digital India   Public Wifi 

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