By Gabriel Buule
With the declaration by UN of Internet being a human right, Ugandan Government through the National Information & Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-Uganda) decided to avail citizens living within the borders of Kampala with free Wi-Fi effective October 1, everyday from 6am to 6pm, according to ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze.
However, there is a saying that free things can be costly. I am not trying to demonise Government agenda under the stewardship of Frank Tumwebaze but I would like to caution you before you go to your lovely gadget and seek free Internet which isn’t provided by your dear Mum.
This also applies to public hotspots in your favorite “Kafunda”. For the fact that a public Wi-Fi network can’t be safe and secure simply because it has a password.
Remember, these passwords are shared, so anyone nearby can easily hack onto the network and see what you’re doing.
However, I can kindly note that along with convenience, public Wi-Fi hotspots can also provide an easy way for identity thieves and cybercriminals to track what you’re doing online, and steal your logins or personal information if you’re not careful. And in the analysis I bring you the 3 dangerous short comings of public Wi-Fi.
Main-in-the-middle attacks: “Man-in-the-middle attacks are where attackers are putting together their own network and standing between your computer and the computer you’re trying to access and all the information is routed through their device,” If they use this kind of approach then all the information is accessible to them, it doesn’t matter if you are accessing an HTTPS website, an encrypted website or not.”
Malware: Malware is even more dangerous, because it potentially gives an attacker access to everything on your device. They can steal your files or photos, and even turn on cameras or microphones to eavesdrop. If the attacker can get your login info for a cloud service, for example, it’s easy for them to slip malware onto your device.
Wi-Fi sniffing: The last method is known as Wi-Fi sniffing and it involves monitoring network traffic. Attackers record huge swathes of data as it travels across the network and then analyze it later to uncover useful details. Sadly, it’s not even illegal to sniff through packets a lot of the time.
You might imagine that you’d need expensive specialist equipment or some kind of programming ability to monitor Wi-Fi and get your hands on other people’s information, but you
“You can turn on Wi-Fi sniffing, log into a public Wi-Fi network and the software allows you to listen to and see all the traffic that’s transferred over the network,”
But we have a solution For You
It is true WiFi users are at risk from hackers, but fortunately there are safeguards against them. The recent explosion of free, public WiFi has been an enormous boon for working professionals. Since these free access points are available at restaurants, hotels, airports, bookstores, and even random retail outlets, you are rarely more than a short trip away from access to your network, and your work. According to Top malware security provider http://usa.kaspersky.com/ this is all what you need to consider:
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) connection is a must when connecting to your business through an unsecured connection, like a WiFi hotspot. Even if a hacker manages to position himself in the middle of your connection, the data here will be strongly encrypted. Since most hackers are after an easy target, they’ll likely discard stolen information rather than put it through a lengthy decryption process.
Use SSL Connections
You aren’t likely to have a VPN available for general Internet browsing, but you can still add a layer of encryption to your communication. Enable the “Always Use HTTPS” option on websites that you visit frequently, or that require you to enter some kind of credentials. Remember that hackers understand how people reuse passwords, so your username and password for some random forum may be the same as it is for your bank or corporate network, and sending these credentials in an unencrypted manner could open the door to a smart hacker. Most websites that require an account or credentials have the “HTTPS” option somewhere in their settings.
Turn Off Sharing
When connecting to the Internet at a public place, you’re unlikely to want to share anything. You can turn off sharing from the system preferences or Control Panel, depending on your OS, or let Windows turn it off for you by choosing the “Public” option the first time you connect to a new, unsecured network.
Keep WiFi Off When You Don’t Need It
Even if you haven’t actively connected to a network, the WiFi hardware in your computer is still transmitting data between any networks within range. There are security measures in place to prevent this minor communication from compromising you, but not all wireless routers are the same, and hackers can be a pretty smart bunch. If you’re just using your computer to work on a Word or Excel document, keep your WiFi off. As a bonus, you’ll also experience a much longer battery life.
Even individuals who take all the possible public WiFi security precautions are going to run across issues from time to time. It’s just a fact of life in this interconnected age. That’s why it’s imperative to keep a robust Internet security solution installed and running on your machine. These solutions can constantly run a malware scan on your files, and will always scan new files as they are downloaded. The top consumer security software will also offer business protection solutions, so you can protect yourself while you’re out and about, and your servers back at the office, all at the same time.
(The Writer is: Blogger, Journalist, Tech expert)