Using public Wi-Fi is a bad idea, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States.
In a weekly advice column, the FBI warns that using public Wi-Fi networks, such as those in hotels and airports, poses cybersecurity risks. “Don’t allow your phone, computer, tablet, or other devices to auto-connect to a free wireless network while you are away from home,” the FBI said.
Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks is “an open invitation for bad actors to access your device,” according to the FBI. It enables cybercriminals to infect your device with malware, steal your passwords and PINs, and access your contacts and camera.
If you really need to connect to a public hotspot, make sure to confirm the name of the Wi-Fi network and its login procedure. The goal is to avoid accidentally connecting to a hacker’s Wi-Fi hotspot. Hackers often try to make their Wi-Fi hotspots look like a legitimate one in order to fool unsuspecting users to connect to their network.
While using a public Wi-Fi, you should also avoid logging in to your bank accounts and other websites that require sensitive information. Hackers might be using these public Wi-Fi networks to snoop into your Internet connection and steal your usernames and passwords.
The FBI advises travelers to use mobile data instead and to disable location services that inform other people of your whereabouts. If you’re using a laptop, you can connect it to the Internet through your phone’s mobile hotspot.
Most people use public Wi-Fi networks because they’re free. Malls and local government units have started offering free Wi-Fi to the public. It’s a welcome development because it makes the Internet accessible to the majority of Filipinos who lack access to the information superhighway, but it comes with inherent risks. Hackers and cybercriminals are always looking for ways to steal your data through vulnerable public Wi-Fi networks.
The best recourse is to avoid using public Wi-Fi networks unless you trust the network and you’re sure that it’s secure. Use your mobile data to connect to the Internet instead.