The Dangers of Connecting to Unsecured Networks

Free wi-fi icon. Wifi speech bubble. Wireless zoneThe internet is awesome and we use it for everything, even when we are away from home. Mobile devices can have a data plan through your cellphone company that allows you to browse on the go, but if you don’t have something like this set up, then you may resort to searching for unsecured networks because they don’t require a password. Unfortunately this is a pretty risky practice, because you can’t be sure exactly of the connection source. You’ve probably been taught from a young age not to take candy from strangers, and the same concept applies here. You might be thinking, what is the harm in using free internet? There are several reasons that it can be harmful, and once you know them you may think twice before connecting to an unsecured network.

You Don’t Know What You Are Connecting to

There are different kinds of connections when it comes to networks. There is the traditional type where you connect to a central router, and then another kind called ad-hoc. When you find an unsecured network, there isn’t really a way that you can determine which type it is. Traditional connections aren’t exactly safe, but they are better than ad-hoc which connects your device to other computers on the network. Then information can be accessed between these connected computers freely, and whoever is connected to you can access all of your private data like passwords, personal and financial information, and anything else you have.

Even if the connection is on a router, you’re information isn’t safe. If someone with hacking skills is using the same network, they can get into your information as you send it over the internet. So, any passwords you put in can be found out, and if you use the same passwords and usernames over multiple sites then they can use this to get into EVERYTHING. It is much safer to avoid unsecured networks altogether and only connect to something secure with encryption capability.

Protect Yourself from Wi-Fi Thievery

Avoiding the temptation of free Wi-Fi is the best way to protect yourself from having your information stolen, but there are other things you can do as well:

  • Don’t do anything important on a public network. If you need to check your bank account, shop online, or pay bills, do that at home. Then you can ensure that the really sensitive information isn’t available for tech-savvy strangers to access.
  • Use websites that are secure. There is a difference between http and https. That s on the end indicates an extra level of security which encrypts information you send to the site. You shouldn’t access anything that needs a password on an open network, but especially not if the site doesn’t take extra security measures.
  • These rules apply to mobile devices too. Just because you aren’t on a computer doesn’t mean that your information isn’t in danger. You may hate using up the data on your phone plan, but it’s better than having your private information stolen.

Just as you don’t want to connect to unsecured Wi-Fi, you also shouldn’t leave your home Wi-Fi unprotected. Put passwords in place for your home Wi-Fi, so no one can access it without permission. Follow these safe practices, and you can feel much safer while browsing the web.