Just because it's there and it's free, doesn't mean you should be using it.
Nowadays, you'd be hard pressed to find a place where Free Wi-Fi isn't available. Most grocery stores offer it, hotels, gyms, schools,etc. We are so addicted to our digital devices and all the perks that come with them, but at the same time we are accustomed to using Wi-Fi connections to save our precious data. We don't ever want to be charged for going over our limits. So, being surrounded by a constant, plethora of free Wi-Fi services is quite alluring. Connecting to open Wi-Fi networks however, is a huge security risk.
Anyone Can See What You Are Doing and Retrieve Your Information!
Since these free, open Wi-Fi connections aren't secured; anything you do while connected to one can be seen and any data sent over them can be retrieved in plain text. Tools are readily available to enable someone with the right device and a little spare time to master exactly how to do this. So while your in Starbucks enjoying your latte and checking your bank account, the guy across the shop from you who is on his laptop, could be stealing all of your information and your money!!
They Can Be Used to House Malicous Software.
These open access points can be used to store all types of malicious software. So when users that connect to them in the background malware, trojans and virueses can be downloaded onto their device. These malicious programs can turn your device into a bot used to wage DoS attacks , they can download malware which can steal all of your personal information and send it to the author of the malware, or it can install redirects so when you go to visit a legitimate site like www.walmart.com, your sent to a page that looks similar but it steals your information and then drains your bank account, or steals your identity.
You Could Be Connecting to Something Besides the Access Point!
This is whats commonly known as a man-in-the-middle attack. Basically the attacker positions themselves between you and the access point you are connecting too. So instead of sending your data to the access point, it all goes to the attacker instead. This is becoming more and more common and most of the time while the attack is occurring, the victim is completely unaware. So you have just handed the attacker all of your information!
Use A VPN and Protect Yourself!
The best way to protect your data and your device from all of these potential threats is to simply use a VPN when connecting to open Wi-Fi hotspots. There's no shortage of VPN service providers available. Some of the most popular one's are listed below.
Keep these tips in mind while your out next time to ensure that you don't become an attacker's next digital victim.