Free public WiFi stats from ITRC (Identity Theft Resource Center) show that 78,5% of people who connect to publically available Internet networks believe that using public WiFi can lead to identity theft – and yet only 26,7% percent use VPN, the most reliable tool for personal online protection that encrypts all traffic between Internet and device into a secure tunnel.
Research shows that WiFi user fears are not unfounded, since public WiFi can be hacked into very easily. Hackers often position themselves as WiFi hotspots and easily steal personal information of each individual that logs in. In addition, identity thieves have lately been using wireless sniffers, a software designed to intercept and decode data when it is transmitted over a network.
Anyone who is shopping online or doing online banking by using a wireless network is especially vulnerable to hacking attacks that can steal one¹s credit card data or identity.
NordVPN outlines the security tools most often used by people who connect to wireless networks:
* VPNs. VPNs are a preferred tool for more than half of respondents (58.4%) who said they use security tools when accessing free WiFi. A professional VPN service encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a device and helps hide an IP address. If you are a beginner, it’s best to choose a VPN that’s user friendly.
* HTTPS. 53,1% of security-minded respondents mentioned that they only use websites that have https URL. Using “https” sites is especially important if users are entering personal data somewhere online.
* Firewall. 44,7% of those who care about personal privacy said they were using a firewall when going online in public places. Most operational systems have a built-in firewall these days, which keeps outsiders from going through the computer’s data. Firewall won’t completely protect from hacks, but it’s a useful tool if used in combination with other security enhancing services.
* Anti-virus. 35,5% of security-concerned respondents said they were using an anti-virus program when connecting to public WiFi. Anti-virus is highly recommended to use at all times to protect the network from malware. However, using only anti-virus is not enough in order to keep a system secure. A hacker can see if a malware can be detected by anti-virus when it is run on the computer ¬ and if it is, the hacker can easily modify its code and try again.