ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Protect Your Mobile Phone and Tablet from Free Public Wifi Hotspots

Updated on December 28, 2017
amuno profile image

Alfred is a long-time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

Wifi security in Free public hotspots is taking center stange
Wifi security in Free public hotspots is taking center stange | Source

The ever growing use of mobile phones and tablets, compounded with increasing number of public WiFi hotspots continue to breed its own headaches, and none so glaring as theft of identity, credit card and other personal data.

In particular are man in the middle attacks that prey on free public WiFi hotspots in cafes, airports, bars, libraries and other public places. The man in the middle attack involves hackers eavesdropping into and collecting hotspot internet traffic, and using the stolen info for sinister purposes.

It is no brainer that WiFi internet hotspot technology is the way to go for anyone on the move, but it is also amazing how insecure this type of connection is.

Free WiFi internet is convenient but is repeatedly targeted by all kinds of attacks because of two main reasons:

  • Wifi hotspot connectivity is by radio waves which leave it open for access by all and sundry.
  • Secondly, data that passes on most public WiFi hotspots are not necessarily encrypted, making it easy for hackers to eavesdrop and steal them.

5 Ways to Protect your Mobile Phone From Hackers in Free Public Wifi

Overall, WiFi hotspots are set up in good faith and are meant to be harmless, but you do not want to be the one on the receiving end when a hacker finally chooses to attack.

Sadly though, end users neither have the know-how nor the time to secure the data in question, thus endearing themselves to hacker attacks.

Of course responsibility lies in the hands of everyone involved, but the end user can actually take a few steps to ensure that most, if not all of personal data is secure.

1. Free Public Wifi is Usually Unencrypted

First and foremost, the knowledge that free wifi is not necessarily safe should make you connect to them sparingly. Only connect to public wifi when you have to, make it brief, and log out immediately you are done.

While at it, you should be unusually critical of wifi passwords for hotspots you intend to connect to. And just in case you trusted your favourite local restaurant because it uses a wifi password, find out how easily accessible the password is, and this should ring a bell about how easy it is for anyone else to acquire and use it.

If it is all about getting the password from the manager at the counter, then you are not safe. Most restaurants and bars actually display wifi passwords right at the counter!

In brief, public wifi is not encrypted, and thus anyone with ulterior motives can listen to, access and steal data that passes through the network. By hacking into your log-in credentials through public wifi, one can as well hack into your otherwise encrypted mail services like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc.

Do you secure your home wifi correctly?

See results

2. Watch out for Duplicate and Sneaky Hotspot Names

You should also watch out for duplicate wifi hotspot names. A duplicate hotspot name is a warning that a hacker has set up alternative wifi hotspot and is awaiting you to hopefully log in by mistake. You will be redirected to internet locations manned by the tricksters in question, where you will be monitored and unknowingly leave lots of data about yourself.

In addition to duplicate names, watch out for enticing hotspot names like Free Wifi. They are usually hoaxes, re-directing you to rogue sites.

Of course some enticing names represent genuine hotspots, but it is no crime to question them and are proved wrong. At least you have cleared the air and are sure you are not being pried on.

3. Use Virtual Private Networks

Use virtual private networks (VPN) software. Much as VPNs can also take the role of the man in the middle, they are much better bets than been unknowingly tracked by hackers that are operating from without.

Take time to install a trusted VPN software, which is usually a onetime installation procedure, and one that will offer a degree of protection and anonymity across the internet.

A good number of VPNs also protect against non-http sites, which usually request for personal data. A pop up on your screen will let you know of malicious activity, and help you halt them.

Some popular VPN software include, Hotspot Shield, Cisco AnyConnect, Onavo etc.

4. Don’t Use Public Wifi Hotspots to Transact Important Business

Public wifi hotspots are free fall arena for all and thus do not use it to access important personal data.

You should also avoid the temptation to transact financial assignments that require you to log in into business sites, and key in electronic card details.

Because of the lax in data encryption, free public gives thieves opportunity to steal data without use of sophisticated techniques and codes.

Hence it is up to you to avoid processing assignments that involve use of credit card and other identity related data, unless of course operating in secure network environment.

5. Forget Visited Networks and Disable Automatic Connection to Networks

Learn to always forget visited networks. Most of us are careless when it comes to tracking obvious computing mistakes. One of them relates to keeping record of wifi hotspots we have visited over time.

Forget this Network in iPhone
Forget this Network in iPhone

Of course, it helps when we happen to re-visit particular wifi hotspot facilities in future, and not having to re-enter passwords. As much as this is convenient, it actually lets the mobile phone or tablet join a hotspot in question automatically, every time we happen to visit the facility.

We may not actually be using the internet but the mobile phone will log in, will stay connected and may actually allow the waiting bad guys to take charge.

Most mobile phones provide this feature and unless you really have a good reason to want it, learn to turn it off.

It also goes as a warning to those that allow their mobiles to join networks automatically. Turn it off to avoid joining unwanted internet hotspots without direct permission.

The Home Wifi Hotspot Security!

An access point for domestic and mobile wifi
An access point for domestic and mobile wifi

Free public WiFi is not the only place that hackers will attack to steal personal data. Attacks can happen right in the confines of your house. Always install dynamic and encrypted password standards in your WiFi router or ad hoc network to bar outsiders from stealing your internet, and more seriously, stealing personal data.

Securing Home Wifi

© 2014 Alfred Amuno

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • amuno profile image
      Author

      Alfred Amuno 3 years ago from Kampala

      Quite right Nell. A combination of unlimited cell phones and equally many and insecure hotspots breeds its own problems.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Great info amuno, and this is really helpful for anyone who is using public wi fi too, nell

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)