Public Wi-Fi tips are essential for using free internet hotspots, that can be accessed by everyone, and Australia has a huge internet-using population. It stands for wireless fidelity and is available at malls, airports, restaurants, cafes, schools, coffee shops, hotels, schools, stadiums, etc. Though free Wi-Fi, it provides users with ease of internet access on the go when travelling, hanging out, and relaxing at public recreation places. People can connect their smartphones, laptops, tabs, iPad, Bluetooth devices, and computer systems, play online games, access social networks, Facebook Messenger, etc., via this wireless network.
How does it work?
A public Wi-Fi network uses radio waves for communication. It offers users two standard frequencies, 2.4 GHz, and 5 GHz, respectively. While the former provides extensive data at a slower speed, the latter offers vice versa.
Is Public Wi-Fi usage secure?
No! Wi-Fi in public places can be accessed by everyone with a smartphone. It might have a password or be an open-ended network. But it does not guarantee the security of your personal data, bank information, etc., which is not encrypted during your online session.
What are the risks of using public WiFi?
A data breach is the most basic risk involved in public Wi-Fi usage. Though retail malls, coffee shops, hotels, airports, cafes, etc., vouch for providing a free secure online network to the average person, there is no guarantee of a possible cyber-attack. Hence, it is essential to note the following internet security risks that can cause a data breach when accessing public networks.
Man in the Middle (MitM) attack
Man in the Middle (MitM) attack is one of the most popular attacks faced by people using public Wi-Fi. It is an online form of eavesdropping where cybercriminals can read your data the moment you are connected to a non-secure network.
Rouge Wi-Fi hotspot
A rogue Wi-Fi hotspot is a duplicate internet network created by hackers. It resembles a secured network belonging to a trusted service provided, but this is a trap. Cybercriminals use Rogue Wi-Fi hotspots to find soft targets like professionals or individuals with sensitive data like credit card information, bank account details, etc. Rogue networks can be found at retail outlets, airports, hotels, restaurants, and public places where large crowds use Wi-Fi.
Unencrypted or plain Wi-Fi networks
An unencrypted or plain Wi-Fi network does not have a secret code that protects data exchange between the router and the connected devices. Hence, the moment you connect to an anon-secure Wi-Fi network, your information will be open and can be read by cybercriminals. Usually, Wi-Fi routers have in-built encryption switched off by the manufacturers. A trained IT professional can enable encryption for a router and offer secure Wi-Fi for usage.
Software vulnerability & Malware
Another risk involved in public Wi-Fi servers is that the software might have a security loophole, which is quite easy for professional hackers to detect. They can write a code to insert malware based on the weakness of the software, thus compromising internet security.
How can unsecured Wi-Fi affect professionals?
Professionals have a huge risk of becoming a victim of cyber security threats as their work involves the use of sensitive, company-specific data. Cyber thieves are on the hunt for such critical information, which they can use for monetary gain. Hence, working professionals and students are advised to use secured Wi-Fi networks or use VPAN in public places.
Virtual Private Network (VPAN)
A Virtual Private Network (VPAN) is a virtual private server that makes your internet usage private when on a public Wi-Fi network. A virtual point-to-point network is created by dedicated circuits that further classify VPNs into 3 types. They are namely remote, site-to-site, extranet based, or intranet-based site-to-site. The Virtual Private Network offers confidentiality of information exchange between two points and hackers can see encrypted data. VPN further provided user authentication, which means only people who are granted access by the user can access it. It also helps identify any kind of tampering done to the messages, thus guaranteeing the integrity of messages. It is advised to install a good VPAN on your laptop or smartphone if you work while travelling.
Free Wi-Fi at Victoria
Victoria, Australia offers free Wi-fi called VicFreeWifi to the public in Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne, Bendigo, Central Ballarat, and at CBD train stations. is a secure network, and users are not required to give any personal details or passwords to access it. A user gets 1GB of data usage per device/day through this public Wi-Fi network. It is available in Bourke St Mall, on public transport, places for leisure and hanging out with family and friends.
Should I be worried about public Wi-Fi?
You must make cautious about public Wi-Fi usage than worry about it. Taking precautions is always better.
Could my abuser hack my device while I’m on public Wi-Fi?
If you do not follow the security tips and leave your phone and laptops unprotected, the chances of being hacked are greater!
What can I do to increase my security?
We have shared below important security tips that need to be followed for a secure internet browsing experience on public Wi-Fi. Basic internet security precautions, like keeping your Bluetooth off, not downloading documents or files, not accepting requests from unknown sources, not sharing your location, etc.
Public Wi-Fi tips for secure usage in Australia
Do note down our internet security tips for a secured Public Wi-Fi usage in Australia:
Use Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will offer you a private data browsing and exchange experience even on a public Wi-Fi network. If using public Wi-Fi for office work, use your employer’s VPN for secured access to data. Ensure you are using a Virtual Private Network offered by a reputed and licensed service provider.
Avoid accessing/downloading sensitive information
It is recommended to be cautious about what you access when on public Wi-Fi. Avoid downloading any important office files or accessing important emails, outlook.com as cybercriminals can read your data unless you are on a VPN. Do not make online payments with credit cards and debit cards, or transfer money, as this can compromise your bank details and lead to online theft. Free data encourages users to download movies, apps, etc while travelling, but that is a trap. So, avoid downloading apps, and movies on your android smartphones, iPhones, tabs, iPads, laptops, etc.,
Browse HTTPS websites only
Contrary to the HTTP version, HTTPS websites encrypt data shared. Hence, we recommend you browse websites that start with HTTPS only. With HTTP websites, you will receive a ‘Not Secure’ notification, which can cause a possible cyber threat to your system.
Turn off ‘Connect Automatically’ on your systems
Ensure you have turned off the ‘Connect Automatically’ option available in your settings on both laptop and smartphone. This prevents your device from directly connecting to any nearby Wi-Fi network. It also prevents sharing information about your device and the available networks it is trying to connect to. This will prevent hackers from detecting and creating rogue networks.
Use Two-factor authentication or Multi-factor authentication
Use Two-factor authentication or Multi-factor authentication to protect your passwords. Use a google authenticator app to secure access to your mobile phones, laptops, tabs, iPad, computers, etc.
Update your software
Updating your device software is essential to enable software patches and offer the latest protection tools. Hence, whenever you get a software update notification, acknowledge, and update it as a priority.
Use browser extension
Use HTTPS Everywhere browser extension, which switches HTTP to HTTPS websites. This extension is available with Google Chrome, Opera, and Opera web browsers.
Use the latest Anti-virus Software
Use the latest anti-virus software to scan your laptop, smartphone, iPads, etc., for any virus or malware threat. Scan your systems first for any computer viruses, immediately after joining a Public Wi-Fi network. Do regular security checks to prevent any breach of data.
Keep Firewall switched on
Always keep Firewall switched on to offer a security shield to your system.
Switch off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirDrop
Always switch off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and AirDrop when not in use. Open ports are vulnerable to attacks and can lead to a compromise of internet security.
Beware of Rogue Wi-Fi
When on a holiday, the hospitality services provided by your hotel will also have a free Wi-Fi network. But ensure you get the correct details and credentials from the management to prevent joining a rogue Wi-Fi network. At such leisure venues, cybercriminals are on the hunt for victims. They copy the authentic Wi-Fi networks to provide a rogue network and fool visitors into joining them. Since the Rogue Wi-Fi network resembles the original authentic networks, nobody can doubt them.
Web hosting service
Ensure you are using a secure web hosting service to prevent any possible cyber security threat.
Digital identity must be private
Your digital identity must be a private affair and should not be disclosed to anyone to prevent a data breach. Hackers can create a bogus clone of your digital identity, which can promote cyber theft based on the extent revealed.
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