How to know if a Wireless connection is secure
The use of wireless networks to connect to the Internet is common around the world, Spain included. With a percentage greater than 66%, our country ranks second internationally. Within the Spanish autonomous regions, residents of Navarra are the most frequent users of wireless connections at more than 80%, a higher percentage than the Spanish average (76.18%). On the other hand, residents of Madrid are the least frequent users of wireless connections (59.58%).
Only the British use wireless networks to connect to the Internet at a rate greater than the Spanish. The UK and Spain are followed by Italy (52.91%), France (52%), and the United States (49.2%).
That being said, when considering the investment in technology within public sector it is predicted that the use of wireless networks will increase in years to come. The European Union faces the challenge of making the Internet more accessible for everyone, with the goal of installing WiFi in 8,000 city halls around the continent, involving an investment of 120 million euros by the year 2020.
We are so used to wireless networks that the very first thing we do when sitting down, whether it be at a hotel, a health center or restaurant, is asking for the WiFi network (wireless fidelity) and password.
Are wireless networks safe?
The first thing we must be able to do is distinguishing between a secure wireless network and an insecure one. How can we do so? According to Nestor Carriba, Director of Channels and Alliances of Aiuken Cybersecurity, when we try to access a network from a device, it warns us with an“open network” message, warning us we might be putting ourselves at risk by using it. The best way to avoid unsecured networks is: “the less you use them the better. Only do so for basic things like reading an article or visiting a website”, the expert says.
We should also avoid visiting pages that ask for our private information. If it is necessary to do so it is advisable to use an encrypted network (VPN).
One of the greatest advantages of wireless networks are their wireless accessibility, but at the same time, this is also one of their greatest problems. Networks of this type are more likely to be attacked by hackers, thus being less secure. A hard cable or ethernet cord, according to Aiuken’s expert, is still one of the safest way to access the Internet.
Beware fake networks
Common sense is the best weapon to avoid falling into cybercriminal traps. Nestor Carriba explains that, if we are going to access a free public network, we should be wary of it being a fake.
For a cybercriminal it is not difficult to create a fake network, give it a more recognizable name, and trick those who might access it. Therefore it is easy to access a fake network without realizing that a cybercriminal is stealing valuable information. Experts recommend deleting the list of known WiFi networks from our devices.
As a consequence, a fundamental rule should be not to access networks which do not request a password. However, according to Kaspersky Lab Spain, we should also be cautious of networks which do request a password which might be used so that a cybercriminal can create an access point to a fake WiFi network using the same name.
Herein lies the risk: we would be sending our information to a hacker instead of a safe network, and that with such information they might access our private and/or banking information.
Cellnex also recommends carefully reading the terms and conditions before accessing free WiFi networks in trusted places (public buildings, hotels, shopping centers, airports). This way, we ensure that the place is abiding by personal data laws.
Don’t give banking information
Although it might seem common sense it is advisable to be aware of the implicit risk when accessing online banking via a public WiFi network. When doing so it is best to use your phone’s mobile data. When accessing online banking from insecure networks, experts recommend closing the session at the end, and if you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud it is best to contact your bank as soon as possible in order to resolve the problem.
Aiuken insists that we should never access bank accounts, corporate email, or send important documents or medical records from public networks:“Whatever you consider important to you, don’t look at or send via public networks”.
Cellnex insists on the importance of looking at the specific name of the WiFi network in order to make sure that its name has relevance to its location(in doing so we avoid connecting to a network with a similar name created by a hacker in order to look at and steal private information).
The relevance of “Https”
It’s important to avoid using public WiFi networks to access your bank account, and when doing so it is essential to use the “https” available in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
For this, it is advisable to identify that the “S” appears in the web address bar. Specifically, it should show the “s” from https and the symbol of a padlock. This means that the connection is encrypted. Another option is to use a private virtual network or VPN to help safeguard your information.
In any case, home WiFi connections tend to be more secure, especially in recent years. However, routers installed by telecommunication companies in earlier years were less sophisticated and were thus easier hacked by cybercriminals.
Another good recommendation is to switch your home WiFi off when not using it. This saves energy and will further protect your information.