Free Wi-Fi: What you need to know before using the Internet

Free Wi-Fi: What you need to know before using the Internet

Since it is a type of connection that is generally more stable and economical than mobile data, many users prefer to connect to Wi-Fi networks to use the Internet. At home, we can access this type of connection through our provider. However, access on the street depends on the availability of free access networks.

Fortunately, nowadays it is not difficult to find cafes, restaurants, hotels, museums and even squares that have free Wi-Fi. But anyone who thinks that these networks are 100% secure is wrong: you need to be very careful when using public Wi-Fi connections so that your sensitive data does not fall into the hands of criminals.

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A Wi-Fi router responsible for providing a wireless connection to devices – Photo: Rafael Leite / TechTudo

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The main care in public communication

In general communications, it is most recommended not to exchange any sensitive information during use – that is, not to log into websites, not to enter online banking systems and not to perform banking transactions of any kind. Since we do not know how to manage this network or who can access the data we exchange, it is best to avoid any such operation to keep your information safe.

In any case, before connecting to a Wi-Fi network, you need to make sure that this connection is legitimate. In some cases, scammers create a network with a name similar to the name of the organization. The user can access it thinking it is the Wi-Fi of that place, but ends up connecting to a fraudulent network.

Thus, criminals have almost complete control over the information passing through this connection and it can affect browsing by redirecting websites to fake pages, sending malicious files to the device or even capturing your information that is sent over the Internet.

It is important to check the network name before connecting – Photo: Rafael Leite / TechTudo

Therefore, to ensure the legitimacy of the Wi-Fi network to which you are connected, it is worth asking, for example, an employee of the enterprise. It is also important to check, in the network name, that there are no different letters replacing the letters, such as the number ‘0’ replacing the letter ‘O’, the number ‘1’ replacing the letter ‘I’ or even the lowercase letter ‘L’. Replace the capital letter “I” (or vice versa).

But even on a legitimate network, we are still not completely secure. Hackers can connect to the same Wi-Fi network and access the information you exchange over the Internet. In some cases, they are able to capture data packets before they reach your device, with the aim of injecting some malicious content.

Therefore, it is important to always access secure websites, which use HTTPS on all pages (not just login pages). In this way, the traffic is carried out in an encrypted form, which prevents anyone from capturing the information that is exchanged between the device and the website server.

HTTPS is shown in the address bar when the connection is secure – Image: Reproduction / Rafael Leite

When using a free Wi-Fi network, it is also necessary to disable options related to network discovery and file sharing. With these functions activated, it becomes easy for a hacker to access your device and inject some malicious files.

Apps that offer a virtual private network or VPN can be useful for secure browsing. These VPNs encrypt all of your internet access, making it difficult for hackers to intercept your browsing data. However, since this service will receive all of your internet traffic, it is important to choose a reliable VPN.

Another safe option is to use the operator’s mobile data instead of accessing a public Wi-Fi network, as this traffic is usually encrypted. This is the most recommended option when you need to access accounts and online banking and make financial transactions away from home.

Apps with Wi-Fi are free

Searching app stores reveals software that promises to collect the passwords of many public networks around the world, including maps to visualize where those Wi-Fi networks operate. Even connecting to the networks these apps suggest, there are the same security risks as any public Wi-Fi. The risk may be greater if these applications automatically access a network, where you may not see that you are connected and may exchange sensitive data during such use.

Instabridge is access to public networks; The NET-CLARO-WIFI app enables access to Claro operator access points – Photo: Reproduction / Rafael Leite

Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the networks registered in these apps are truly legitimate or truly public. So, the best thing to do is to manually connect to your Wi-Fi, so you don’t run the risk of being on a fake or unsecured network.

Some operators offer their subscribers free networks and calls from hotspots scattered throughout the cities. In general, they are passwordless networks and, when connected, require authentication according to the client’s registration.

There is less chance of problems with such connections, since it is necessary to log in with operator data to access them. However, it cannot be considered as secure as residential Wi-Fi, for example. To use websites and apps that contain sensitive data outside the home, the best option is a mobile network.

In the video below, learn how to block people connected to your Wi-Fi network

How to block people connected to your Wi-Fi network

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