The number of public Wi-Fi security myths out there only contribute to the ability of hackers to hack. So many are only concerned with whether or not they can get free Wi-Fi, but they aren’t concerned with what it could cost them. Wi-Fi security is a concern the world over because hackers are setting up public hotspots that allow them to hack.
Let’s look at the worst public Wi-Fi security myths people believe. Once we debunk them you will know what to watch out for as you protect yourself traveling wherever you end up.
Public Wi-Fi security myths
Wi-Fi security myth #1: Password protection makes it safe
It is estimated that nearly 25% of all public Wi-Fi has no encryption. This means that it is completely unsecured. It doesn’t matter how many passwords you enter at this point, if there is no encryption there is no Wi-Fi security. Any hacker who wants to snoop your traffic is free to. It’s possible that a hacker even set up your Wi-Fi connection.
Google's guest Wi-Fi uses no encryption and doesn't appear to have any posted T&Cs or AUP. It's probably fine.
— Darien Graham-Smith (@DarienGS) March 10, 2017
The way that you are going to protect yourself is by getting your own encryption. Tools such as IPVanish VPN and Hidemyass VPN are perfect as they offer encryption that will protect you on any unsecured Wi-Fi network. All that you have to do is connect to them as soon as you connect to the Wi-Fi, and you are protected from hackers that snoop.
Wi-Fi security myth #2: Paid Wi-Fi hotspots are safe
Aren’t you going to feel foolish when you pay to use a hotspot that was set up by a hacker? They’re going to get your money when pay pay them, and they’re going to steal your information. They got you twice.
The only Wi-Fi security that you get from a paid hotspot is security that you have paid money. This, as you can guess, is absolutely no security at all. You need to take the same precaution as you are taking above with a VPN.
Wi-Fi security myth #3: Antivirus software protects you
Yes, antivirus and security software is effective… for viruses. Unfortunately, they do absolutely nothing to protect you from data spies. They do not operate solely through viruses, they have other means of stealing your data.
✅Enable WPA2 encryption.
✅Disable guest networks.
✅Disable "Broadcast SSID" to hide network.#resist
— Chris Panagakis 📎 (@3lfs3lf) February 5, 2017
This includes those who are doing Evil Twin Wi-Fi hacks. This is when a hacker sets up a Wi-Fi hotspot with no security. They commonly do this in public settings and give it an enticing “Free Wifi” name. You then connect to it, thinking you’re protected with your antivirus from downloading anything harmful, but you are having data stolen.
Wi-Fi security myth #4: Your signing credentials are safe
There are two sides to this myth. There is when you are signing into a Wi-Fi network and you think that you can use the same login and password that you have used countless other times. This is pretty much the unsafest this thing you can do in regards to Wi-Fi security. Hackers love it when you give away information like this and they can steal it use it to hack into your other accounts.
The other side of this Wi-Fi security methods thinking that you can sign into your social media, bank, and work accounts and think that they are protected. Some of these are going to have HTTPS protection. Some are not, will you be paying attention to the difference at all times? Hackers are hoping that you are not.
Wi-Fi security myth #5: Secure Wi-Fi is better than 4G
With all of the scary stuff above about Wi-Fi, it tends to lead people to think that their 4G connection is completely safe. While it is a much safer option, the police are using stingray devices to to track 4G communications. This is a major concern for anyone who participates in a protest.
Map of police use of stingray devices to track Americans’ phonespic.twitter.com/UgCKLfkhMw
— Admiral Grigorovich (@MCCNP) April 11, 2017
If you’re going to be doing absolutely anything risky, or that you don’t want the authorities to find out about, be sure to use an end to end encrypted messaging app. I’m not encouraging illegal behavior, but then neither were those struggling against apartheid and other forms of government-sponsored repression.
Public Wi-Fi security is not guaranteed
There are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to the public Wi-Fi you connect to. If you do not control the network, you do not have any guarantees of safety. What’s even worse, up to 25% of the networks out there have absolutely no security whatsoever.
Using a VPN to secure your connections is your first step. Beyond that, you will need to make smart decisions about what sort of information you are sharing over the network. If it can wait until you get to your home network, that’s the smart decision.