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How to Stay Safe when Connecting to Wireless Networks in 2020
If Maslow’s hierarchy of needs were to be
rewritten today to suit our contemporary lifestyle, we are sure internet would
be part of our basic needs. 21 days without food, 10 days without water, a few
minutes without air and probably a few seconds without Wi-Fi.
That’s how simply we can summarize our
lifestyle and wants today.
To throw in some numbers, there are over 4.3 billion internet usersacross the world as of this year. This is almost half the entire population of the world. Over the decade, what has increased is not just the internet adoption rate but the medium to access it as well. Statistics reveal that there are over 5.1 billion unique mobile users across the globe.
With companies and most of our
conventional activities like banking, shopping and even watching television
going online, we have come to a stage where the internet is almost inevitable.
With Great Convenience Comes Great Compromise As Well
This constant requirement of internet has resulted in companies and government set up multiple access points of wireless internet for users to stay connected. Public hotspots have ensured people are always online and are able to respond to messages and emails, look up information, gauge traffic and even make internet-based calls.
However, there’s a catch. Even the best wireless access points aren’t without their vulnerability to attacks and intrusions. According to the Annual Cybercrime Report, a ransomware attack happens every 14 seconds. Every aspect of wireless internet offered by businesses is prone to risks and this article is all about shedding light on some crucial insights.
Wireless Network and Wi-Fi
Security Issues to Look Out for in 2020
Concerns of Wireless Internet offered by Businesses
Business refers to any café or commercial
establishment that offers you free internet (or sometimes charged too). The
wireless access point (indoor mostly) offered has a limited range and
comes with a security key that is given on demand for security purposes.
However, this does not mean the access
point is safe. The businesses mostly have no proper mechanism to track user
accesses or activities. Honestly, wireless internet offered by them are to lure
customers and they are not in any way obliged to secure your data or identity.
The wireless access point price you pay for using a public Wi-Fi is
expensive because like you know, data is the digital gold. The offering of free
internet can also be an avenue to capitalize on your data and activity such as
your location, personal details, preferences and more. These can then be used
to show you relevant advertisements or suggestions based on your search
The need for uninterrupted internet
sometimes makes it desperate for us to connect to any open network. Hackers and
techies with bad intentions tend to capitalize on this. In simple words, a
rogue network is where a wireless internet access point looks authentic but
isn’t. These are fake networks set up to parse data and indulge in hazardous
activities. You should avoid falling prey to these networks by ensuring the
access point you’re connecting isn’t open and that you should demand a password
to gain access.
A very similar variant to this is the
Evil Twin, where hackers can clone the access point you use and then gain
access to your data or system.
Man in the Middle Attacks
The name probably is a giveaway for what it means. In this, hackers intercept packages – or data – that is transmitted between two users. This happens when the authentication of a communication medium is not secure or mutual. Imagine writing a letter to your friend and not using an envelope to seal its contents. Anyone who intends to get hands-on with your letter can read what you’ve written. The digital version of this is the Man-in-the-Middle attack.
This is more common in free public hotspots, where hackers and users connect for the same reason – data access. If you didn’t know, over24% of the wireless hotspots across the world are unencrypted.
IoT Security Concerns
If we are talking about the wireless internet
security concerns of 2020, we should include an emerging technology that is
bound to become mainstream in the coming months and years. In simple words, IoT
stands for the Internet of Things – an ecosystem of smart devices connected to
These devices are designed to have the
functionality of communicating to other devices via the internet. The
smartwatch you own, your FitBit, standalone GPS devices, smart televisions and
more are part of the IoT ecosystem.
Though the technology is promising, it
has its cons in terms of security. The devices connected to the internet are
prone to maximum threats. This is due to the lack of updates or security
patches developers release after device rollouts. Because the technology is
still new and companies are still setting benchmarks, most products that are
considered safe and secure during release fall prey to newer hacks and
intrusions constantly worked around by hackers.
Besides this, concerns like botnets,
cloud security concerns, minor attacks that dodge detections, automation and
more pose serious threats to their security.
How to Stay Safe When Using Wi-Fi
Staying vigilant of your activities and
the details you share over public access points are sure to protect you from
basic threats. For added security, we recommend these:
Never trust networks that are not
Ask owners of business about the
authenticity of their access point and always ensure you’re connecting to the
right one and not a rogue network.
Switch off your Wi-Fi on your device
if you don’t have an intention to connect.
Even when using a secure wireless
access point, limit your usage to accessing basic information like doing a
Google search. Avoid online transactions or accessing your social media.
Use a Virtual Private Network
(VPN) if possible as this encrypts your data and prevents from hacks.
Access only websites that have a
secure connection. Prefer HTTPS over HTTP.
Make use of security solutions
that warn you of suspicious connections.
These are the wireless network security concerns you should look out for 2020. Stay safe when surfing the internet as security concerns don’t just stop after you connect to a secure connection. Malicious ads, malware and deceptive websites can always trick you into unnecessary complications.