Free public Wi-Fi connections are treated like a public utility, but they can be making you vulnerable to hackers.
By default, most mobile phones/devices are set to ask your permission to join a network. Once you obtain credentials, the known network will join your phone automatically.
Public Wi-Fi hotspots are vulnerable since anyone sharing the same hotspot can use sniffing software to intercept your browser session while you’re visiting websites.
Hijacking your browser session allows hackers to pick up your session cookies, allowing hackers to impersonate the victim, even if the password itself is not compromised.
Many websites use SSL encryption for their login pages to stop hackers from seeing your password, but do not use encryption for the rest of the website.
Using cross-site scripting, hackers can trick the victim’s computer into running code that appears to be trustworthy, allowing the attacker to perform hacks.
Malware or other unwanted programs can use session hijacking to steal a browser’s cookie to perform unwanted actions without the user’s knowledge.
The best way for to protect yourself on public Wi-Fi networks is to download a virtual private network (VPN) app to your mobile device, which utilizes encryption.
VPNs create a virtual network within any Wi-Fi network, thereby hooking into a secured Internet connection via the cloud.
With a VPN, users of public Wi-Fi need not worry about a device automatically detecting and connecting to an unsecured network.