Is using public Wi-Fi is still unsafe in 2020?
You probably have been advised several times by many people that using public wi-fi is dangerous. Most of you have experienced it first hand. But now technology has took a big leap in last few years. So are you still afraid of using public wi-fi? Rumours of dangers of using public wi-fi is almost as old as the wi-fi itself. As this outdated but it does not mean there is no truth in it. There are still risks but wi-fi is a lot safer than before.
Is public wi-fi safe or not?
Well this a big topic of discussion among tech geeks and cyber security experts. Many says its completely safe when you are taking appropriate precautions but some still thinks its better be safe than sorry. Although widespread use of HTTPS protocol has made Internet quite safer than it used to be earlier. Now all the information collected by any websites host over https are encrypted. So your information are safe from other people who are on the same public wi-fi network. The chances of middle man attacks are reduced fairly.
Actually the thing is, there are a lot of things in our daily life we worry about, but we can most probably remove the public wi-fi from the list. Meaning we have all used it at some place in our life. Its hard to avoid the circumstances when you need the Internet and you throw away a chance to use free public wi-fi for no reason. Personally I don’t worry too much about this than once I used to.
But my answer will be always a very big fat NO if you are asking the public wi-fi is entirely safe. There are lot of creepy people lurking on Internet looking for easy score. There is no point of discussion if you don’t want to expose your device to a malicious hotspot. There are many communities been engaged in serious discussion about the safety of public wi-fi. Random people won’t spy on you probably but a malicious hotspot can do much bad. Lets do start our own discussion over it.
Why public Wi-Fi is safe than before
Google has force the https protocol over all the websites and its become a mandatory recently. If a website is not using the https then chrome and other browsers will warn you not to visit the website. You might have already seen this when your browser block some website and warn you not visit the website ahead because it is potentially malicious. So there goes one the most unexpected surprises that is probably for better. When you use any site with http then your connection is not secure and other people can snoop on you. But with https, your connection is private and secured with standard encryption, so you are snooping proof.
Some snooping is still possible
So as the https is widespread, you are safe but not entirely. This could turn into nightmare soon when you hit a http website on a malicious hotspot. When you are browsing Internet, its not sure that you won’t land on a website with no “https” and that could compromise the security. If you are connected to a malicious hotspot and visit a website with http then that could be tempered and other people on network might be able to see what page you visiting, what details you input.
Even visiting only to https website could also turn out to be risky. As the encrypted DNS is not so widespread so snoopers might get a peek if they are nearby and using the same public wi-fi. They may easily acquire the information about the IP address of a website that you visit. For example, by follwing your connection, DNS configuration and IP address, snoopers may find which domain you visited but not exactly the page you accessed.
There are still risks
If you are connected to a malicious hotspot then it could redirect your browser on a phishing website. The is the middle man attack when your browser will get redirected to some other site rather than the one you wanted to visit. Between the time it takes to load that websites, this redirection occur and an alternate version of the safe site will get opened on your system without http. When you input your personal data that could be captured and used for illegal activities.
Protect yourself anyway
As you have already concluded that there is no such thing as a perfectly safe wi-fi but there are some ways you can protect yourself. Ever heard of VPN (virtual private network), this is your saviour. If someone any how manage to alter the connection and try to snoop, your connection will be encrypted. This extra masking of IP will make it harder for anyone who tries to jump into middle and redirect your connection.
There is no doubt that security has came a long ways , so do are hackers. Encryption, https, VPN all of these surely make public Wi-Fi a lot more safe than before but at the same time there is such thing as 100% snoop proof. If you want to use public wi-fi then you can take precautions and be extra sure. Be sure not to share any confidential information with websites that are not host over https. You could also skip all these problems by just avoiding the public wi-fi. Use the cellular data network for the Internet on the go.