Public hotspots are great. No matter whether there’s an issue with your service provider or you simply don’t want to waste your data plan, free wi-fi is a blessing to many. The thing is, though, that it might not entirely be free. Another surprise is that you won’t even have to pay for it with money. What they want is something different yet much more valuable – your data.
By Rene Mulyandari
But that’s kind of cryptic. What does it mean exactly, and how would you even pay with your data? Well, it’s not that you actually pay with it. They just take it from you without you even being aware of the whole process. Luckily, there’s a solution to it, and it’s not ditching hotspots once and for all.
Criminal Modus Operandi
There’s a way hackers do it. If you know it, you might be able to get one step ahead of them. That’s why it’s so important to understand how they operate. Although it might sound intimidating at first, it’s really not that hard to understand. After all, as you’ll see, the attack is so simple that virtually anybody can do it, making it even more dangerous as all you need is the right tools and close to no knowledge.
In order to proceed with a wi-fi attack, we need a network. An ideal one would be used by many people. Therefore, public places such as coffee shops, hotels, airports are a great choice. The network itself can be either official, so set up by the owner, or created by the criminal only pretending to be legitimate. As long as people will connect to it, it doesn’t really matter.
If you connect to a hotspot, the data you send and receive from the Internet will go through a router, which will then connect you to the web. That means that it can be intercepted, and that’s exactly what happens in the attack called man-in-the-middle. The name is pretty self-explanatory – the hacker places themselves between your device and the router.
By telling your device that they’re the router and the router that it should forward the information to their device, and not yours, they can see everything, you send and receive. Of course, that data is then forwarded again to the ‘real’ destination, meaning you will still see what you want.
Once the hacker can see everything that flows through the network, they can not only see sensitive data such as your bank credentials but also add something to it. Then, even after you disconnect from the network, your device will remain compromised, and the virus can then spread to other devices using the same network once you go back home, for example.
Luckily, there’s a simple way you can utilize. It takes advantage of how the system works, just like hackers do. The difference is that here, the goal is to actually help you.
What’s a VPN?
You’ve probably heard about it as this tool has been all over the media recently. It’s equally possible that you don’t fully know what it does or let alone have it installed on your device. A virtual private network is an extra layer between you and the Internet. Before you connect with the world, your connection will go through a server located anywhere in the world, making you invisible.
There’s so many
Just like with everything in the age of the Internet, we have too much to pick from. The same goes for VPN software, where you’ll find multiple options. They can offer more servers to which you can connect as well as locations of those servers. In addition to that, there could be limits of data you can send and receive. That’s why it’s so crucial to pick the one that will suit your needs the best as only you know what you really want.
Not only hackers
Using virtual private network software, you will not only become invisible to those who want to steal from you but also to those who claim to have no malicious intentions. That includes your internet service provider, or ISP, as well as government agencies, both of which might be interested in what you’re up to for different reasons.
The bottom line
Spoofed wi-fi is a major threat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself against it. In fact, it turns out that it’s much easier than we think. All you need is one of the best ever VPNs, and you’ll be ready to go. It doesn’t matter whether you use public networks regularly or not, it’s always good to have this tool on your device as you never know why you might need it, and when the right time comes, it could turn out to be too late to get it.
CISO MAG did not evaluate the advertised/mentioned product, service, or company, nor does it endorse any of the claims made by the advertisement/writer. The facts, opinions, and language in the article do not reflect the views of CISO MAG and CISO MAG does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.