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Beware of Free Public WiFi When Travelling

6 mins. read

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A few weeks ago, we spoke about Free WiFi when travelling. Today, we revisit this by talking about why you should beware of Free Public WiFi. I am Neil and welcome to 5-minute travel tips.

While travelling, all of us always want to stay connected. I have been a witness to so many instances when after reaching a hotel, the travellers first ask for the WiFi password and then go ahead with the check-in formalities. Gone are the days where the traveller first wanted to take the key, go to the room and have a nice hot shower after a full day of travelling. Today, we want to check our Instagram or Facebook feeds first to see how many friends have liked our latest post and want to share more about our holiday memories with our friends and followers. To do this, back in the day, travellers used to buy local sim cards and access the internet on the go.

But with the advent of WiFi and the widespread availability of it, you have free WiFi in practically every corner of the world. And this has made the practice of buying a local SIM card wherever you go fairly obsolete as there is always WiFi when travelling. But using these public WiFi networks around the world has also given rise to many travel security challenges. Let’s dive into a few then. Here are some travel tips for beginners.

Many public Wifi networks lack strong security protections. This makes it easy for tech-savvy scammers to break into them and take advantage of unwary users, especially those who are doing more than just looking up restaurants or checking the weather. These are the risks of using public WiFi.

One common hack is known as the evil twin hack. A scammer sets up a Wi-Fi network with a name similar to the one you’re expecting to use. Let’s say, for example, the scammer names it ‘Free WiFi Network’. Seeing this in your WiFi list, you are no doubt going to try and use it, and why not, who doesn’t like free internet. However, little do you know, that once you connect to the scammer's network, all of your internet usages can be tracked by the person who has set up this network. What does this mean? Well, to put it simply, if you are using Instagram, Whatsapp or any other social media, all of your personal information can easily be accessed by the scammer. If you use any website that involves you adding your login details, the scammer then also has access to your password.

Similarly, another Free WiFi scamming technique is known as the Man in the Middle attack, where the hacker takes up a position between you and the WiFi network to try and intercept your data. With any of these techniques, once the hackers are in, they aim to steal passwords, credit card information, scan email and a whole lot more. And if you think about it, today, all of our passwords are saved in the browser and all of our credit card information is on the phone. So if someone were to access all of this, you are handing over your life’s info to these hackers.

But are we saying that we can never use a public WiFi network again? Surely not. But here are a few things that you should keep in mind before using one. Most secure public WiFi networks will not allow you to log in without entering a password. If they do, you should know that they aren’t secure. Another thing is we have established, try to steer clear of generic-sounding WiFi networks like ‘Free Public WiFi’.

If you are being asked to pay for the WiFi connection that is random in a public place, you should treat this as a warning sign. This may be a scammer trying to get you to enter credit card information so he or she can steal it.

Also, it is advisable to not do online banking or make purchases where you have to enter your credit card information. If you are at a restaurant or bar, then it is often advisable to ask the staff at the place that offers free WiFi for the exact name of its network and make sure that that is the one they are using. It is always beneficial to sign up for a paid VPN service if you travel extensively. There are many VPN apps available on the Apple app store and the google play store. What VPN does is that it encrypts your data even on unsecured public WiFi networks so that you can browse hassle-free while travelling. and finally, as we have been told since the birth of the internet, don’t use the same password on different websites. It could give someone who gains access to one of your accounts access to many of your accounts. Avoid the dangers of using public WiFi.

With all of this, I will always say, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So the next time you are travelling and you are looking to access the internet in a public place, remember these things and like share and upload hassle-free. That’s all for today on 5-minute travel tips. See you next Monday, this is Neil signing off. Ciao.

November 05, 2021


Neil Patil
Neil Patil

Founder & Director, Veena World

More Blogs by Neil Patil

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