The risks of open wifi
The features that make the whole point of wireless access points for consumers offer parallel hackers new opportunities, such as the fact that no authentication is required to establish a network connection. Such situations give them a great opportunity indeed free access to insecure devices on the same network.
They are also able to get between you and the point of connection, a configuration that represents the greatest threat for Free wifi security. So instead of communicating directly with the access point, you send your information to hackers, who then relay them.
Meanwhile, hackers can access each of the information you send over the Internet: important emails, credit card data or credentials to access your corporate network. Once hackers have the information, they may, at their option, to access your systems on your behalf.
Hackers are also able to use a wifi insecure connection to deliver malware. If you allow file sharing on a network, the attacker can easily install infected software on your computer. Some ingenious hackers even managed to hack the connection point itself, thus managing to open a popup window during the connection process to offer an upgrade of a popular software. When the user clicks on the window, malware is installed.
Mobile wireless connectivity becoming increasingly common, one must expect an increase in security problems on the Internet and risks to public wifi networks. This does mean that you should avoid free wifi and stay glued to your desk. The vast majority of pirates will simply prey on easy targets. So it is usually enough to take some precautions to keep your information safe.
Use a virtual private network (VPN)
A VPN (virtual private network) is required when you access your corporate network via an unsecured connection, like a wireless access point. Even if a hacker manages to place in the middle of your connection, the data on it will be strongly encrypted. Since most pirates prefer easy prey, they do not embarrass stolen information requiring tedious decryption process.
Use SSL connections
While it is unlikely that you have a VPN connection while browsing on the Internet in general, nothing prevents you to add a level of encryption to your communications. Enable the "Always use HTTPS" on websites that you visit frequently or that prompt you to enter credentials. Remember that the pirates are well aware that users use the same login and password for forums, their bank or corporate network. Sending these credentials without encryption and may open a breach in which a clever hacker will be eager to rush. Most Web sites that require the opening of an account or identification data entry offer the "HTTPS" option in their settings.
When you connect to the Internet in a public place, it is unlikely that you want to share anything. In this case, you can disable the sharing option in System Preferences or Control Panel, depending on your operating system, or let Windows turn it off for you by choosing the option "Public" the first time you connect to a new unsecured network.
Let the wireless feature turned off when you do not need
Even if you do you are not actively connected to a network, the wireless equipment equipping your computer continues to transmit data over the network or networks located at some distance. Security measures have been put in place for this to minimum communication mode does not compromise the security of your data. However, all wireless routers are far from identical and hackers can sometimes be resourceful. If you use your computer only for work on a Word or Excel document, let the disabled wifi functionality. Moreover, the battery life will be even longer.