T2021_13 How to Use Public WI-FI Safely (6th August 2021)

Wireless networks have transformed the way one uses ICT devices for domestic, office and mobile use. Public wireless networks, popularly known as hotspots, are more often found at places like airports, cafes, hotels, and bars. These public WI-FI hotspots poses a risk which users should be cognizant of.

These risks include:

  • Malware Distribution – Distribution of software that can jeopardize the operation of your ICT device via viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware and adware.

  • Packet sniffing/ Eavesdropping – Anyone connected to the same WI-FI network, can eavesdrop on what you send and receive using a tool called packet analyser or packet sniffer.

  • Unencrypted connections – Not all websites offer encryption. You can tell by the HTTP prefix stated before the domain name. if it starts with HTTPS, it is an encrypted site. If the web address just contains HTTP, it is not encrypted.

  • Man in the middle attacks – this happens when someone impersonates a legitimate public WI-FI service to trick someone into connecting.

  • Theft of personal information – Personal information can come in many forms, such as login credentials, financial information, personal data and pictures.

  • Cyberattack on business - The attacker could even use the data to emulate and impersonate the employee who owns and or uses the device. This sort of fraud can have devastating consequences for companies.

  • Session hijacking – this is where an attacker intercepts information about your computer and its connection to websites or other devices. Once the attacker has obtained that information, it can then be used to configure their computer to mimic the source computer to hijack the connection.

Mitigating the risk

  • Be aware – Public Wi-Fi is inherently insecure – so be cautious

  • Try to verify that it is a legitimate wireless connection.

  • Use a virtual private network.

  • Avoid using unsecure websites.

  • Consider using your mobile phone data.
    The Guyana National CIRT recommends that users and administrators review
    these recommendations and implement them where necessary.
    PDF Download: How to Use Public WI-FI Safely.pdf

  • References