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It is quite common to scan for and connect to public WiFi points which are not password protected and let you log into the internet cheaply and directly. In fact, nowadays, various selling points like restaurant chains have started offering a free WiFi connection to patrons, and in many places, there are public WiFi hotspots provided by the local council.
However, it's a smart move to be cautious when it comes to connecting to a public WiFi.
Let's take a look at what actually happens and what an eavesdropper sees when you use an unsecured public WiFi network.
The open nature of the network permits for snooping; the network could be full of compromised machines, or most worryingly; the hotspot itself could be malicious.
When you are tapping into an unfamiliar hotspot, you could potentially be putting your personal data and the security things (like your bank accounts, passwords, identity) at risk.
Yes, it's shocking but true, anyone connected to the network could capture the data traffic sent from your device. And for this, there are also free apps available which are quite simple.
Anyone can see what pages you are connected to, what you write on a forum or any other type of unencrypted page.
If you are still using File Transfer Protocol to download, upload, or share files, you should avoid connecting to them over unsecured WiFi networks. This is because, most FTP servers use unencrypted connections, so both login credentials and data are sent in plain text, where any snoop can quickly capture them.
There's an app named "DroidSheep" which can be used to gain access to private accounts on popular web services like, Gmail, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Facebook.
While it doesn't capture the passwords to those sites, it can exploit the vulnerability that allows them to open the site using your current session, giving them full access to your account in the process.
Well, here also, no one can guarantee that the router has not been imperilled, or that the DNS configuration hasn't been modified, which would allow an attack like the one described above.
Yes, there are. Just use VPN (Virtual Private Network) service, always look for HTTPS, keep your current security patches installed and system updated, and you are done. Yeaaa!
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