They have opened up a world of possibilities for us. We can find them everywhere. WiFi networks have become part of our lives.

Shops, airports, libraries, shopping centers, trains, bars… the universal connectivity that they facilitate is everywhere. Therefore, the very first question we ask when we come to a hotel or a restaurant is: Is there WiFi?

But, do we know how to use them properly? Are we aware that they could cause some risks if we don’t take proper precautions? Because despite helping our lives, at times they are unsafe. It is possible that we could easily expose ourselves to the cybercriminals who surf the digital universe. However, don’t panic: there are more advantages than disadvantages when we use them in a responsible manner.

Specifically, a WiFi network is the channel to access Internet through which data circulate between connected devices and the network. At home, the user knows the configuration as he/she witnesses the process of installation, he/she knows the service operator and at times, he/she can customize the configuration. You can reduce the risks of vulnerabilities in your equipment and the exposure of your private information by controlling the accessibility to your own network.

That’s why it is indispensable to know the possible ways that a cybercriminal can usewhen he/she accesses a WiFi network. The goal is to carefully surf these networks:

  • Spreading malware: Contrary to what you might think, the attacks carried out by cybercriminals are not always aimed at making money. Also, they attack to install malware, disable the devices or gather data.
  • Man in the middle: It is basically about placing oneself between the device and the network to gather data. This way, thanks to WiFi, the attacker connects to the device and gains access to all data transferred to the Internet servers, even modifying them.
  • Sniffers: It works like the last one, but in this case, the attacker intercepts all possible data to analyze them and use the more sensitive and relevant information.

How can we protect ourselves?

According to Juan Corro, Academic Director of the Engineering Area of the Centro Universitario U-Tad, where it teaches the Master Indra in Cybersecurity: “The lack of good habits and digital health of citizens make them more susceptible to being attacked”.

Therefore, as in all aspects of our lives, the most important point is common sense, i.e., if there is something strange, don’t connect. Before using any public WiFi, we must verify with the people responsible of the place that the network we try to connect to is authentic.

For a cybercriminal, it is not complicated to create a false network, name it with a similar name of one of the most demanded networks and trick whoever wants access to it. So it is not strange that we can connect to that network without realizing it and then they are able to steal our personal information. Likewise, these networks don’t encrypt the information sent to the Internet from our devices, and as a consequence the vulnerability is higher.

These are some recommendations that help us use public WiFi networks more responsibly:

  1. Avoid carrying out specific actions. It is advisable not to buy or check our banking account online. It is better to avoid these sensitive and confidential operations to which we must give passwords or personal information such as our ID or credit card data.
  2. Switch off the auto-connect function to a public WiFi network and don’t forget to disconnect when we finish using it so that it doesn’t remain registered in our device.
  3. Use strong passwords. It strengthens the access to your devices. Though using the same password for everything is easier, it is then the same for scammers. It is advisable to use different passwords for every account and device. Avoid creating short passwords with personal data such as birthday, addresses or telephone numbers. It is important not select the option “save password” as anyone can access your accounts in case of robbery or loss.
  4. Be updated. It is really important to update our software and apps as it strengthens the security of the devices.
  5. Access to protected webs. If it is indispensable to introduce personal information when we connect a public network, it is advisable to check that the web page is encrypted, i.e., protected. To do so we must check that the URL begins by “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP”.
  6. Better the mobile connection. If you have a data plan that’s let you do it, the wireless connection of your mobile, known as “shared connection” or “hotspot”, will be safer than a public WiFi.

An easy way to protect our digital life when we use a WiFi network is to take into account these recommendations. So, safely connect and carefully enjoy the infinite possibilities offered by technology.

Banco Santander helps people prosper in their digital life, as part of its commitment to make responsible banking.