Free WiFi sure is great, right? You get instant Internet access everywhere you are, and you don’t need to wait until you get home to google a restaurant or send money to your credit card.
There’s just one problem – free WiFi is great for hackers too. They often abuse it to target people with cyber attacks. The end result is often identity theft, stolen credit card details, and empty bank accounts.
So we’re going to offer you some useful tips to help you stay safe online. If you already know one of them includes VPNs, and are familiar with them, you can skip to the most reliable Australian VPN services right here.
Those of you who don’t know what VPNs are, or want to hear other security pointers, keep reading.
So What’s the Problem Exactly?
According to the news, Australian shoppers face serious cyber threats online. Around 30% of them were victims of hackers in 2018. And it seems that most Aussie users are ignoring the risks if they can score a bargain.
Here’s how hackers are taking advantage of that:
- Phishing Attacks
Cybercriminals are basically setting up fake sites that imitate legit ones, tricking users into sharing sensitive data with them.
And we’re not just talking about the old HTTP sites that are an obvious red flag. Nope, hackers are now using actual SSL certificates to trick online users. In fact, according to data, a “secure” phishing site is established every two minutes.
And since public WiFi often doesn’t have encryption, cybercriminals can easily see user connection requests. Actually, that data isn’t even safe on secure networks.
With that information, they can launch MITM attacks that redirect people to phishing sites.
- Fake WiFi Networks
Besides phishing, hackers also love setting up fake WiFi networks. Basically, they use a device called the WiFi Pineapple (only about 200 USD/300 AUD) to trick your device into connecting to their fake hotspots.
Once you use their network, they can monitor all your traffic. They don’t even need to redirect you to phishing sites (which they can, by the way) since they can use packet sniffers to find your login credentials.
How to Stay Safe Online
Alright, so things are pretty bad. What can you do to keep your data safe whenever you use the Internet then?
Well, here are our top recommendations:
1. Use a VPN
This is an online service that hides your IP address and encrypts your traffic. Here’s how it works:
- You install a VPN app on your device and use it to connect to a VPN server.
- The app and the server establish an encrypted connection.
- Any data that travels through that connection is completely secure. Nobody can monitor it because they’ll just see gibberish. For example, instead of a hacker seeing “paypal.com,” they’d just see stuff like “Hfghn4DKlgf.”
So by encrypting your traffic, a VPN would prevent hackers from using MITM attacks to redirect you to phishing sites. They’d have no idea what websites you’re about to access, after all.
Also, VPN encryption stops cybercriminals from using packet sniffers to steal login credentials and credit card details from you. Yes, even if you use a fake network.
What’s more, some VPNs offer a firewall-like feature that automatically blocks connections to malicious sites (like CyberSec from NordVPN). So even if you get redirected to a phishing site, your connection won’t go through.
NordVPN is a good option as any, but if you’d like to see more services, check out the most reliable Australian VPN services at ProPrivacy. They have a very helpful guide that compares the top providers on the market.
2. Get Antivirus Protection
A VPN is a step in the right direction, but it can’t actually protect your device against malware infections. It can block malicious sites, sure, but that’s it.
So, you need quality antivirus software – like ESET and Malwarebytes. Just install them on all devices and run regular scans. Also, perform updates as soon as they pop up. Otherwise, new malware strains might slip past the defenses.
3. Use a Password Manager
This is a tool that acts as a digital vault for your passwords. It stores them in one place and secures them with powerful encryption.
The highlight is their auto-fill feature. Basically, it allows password managers to fill in login fields for you automatically. The best part is this feature will only work on sites you whitelist. So it won’t work on phishing sites, offering you a nice level of protection.
What’s more, some password managers will even alert you when you end up on a malicious domain.
4. Use Script Blockers
Sometimes, hackers might use malicious pop-ups on legit websites that redirect you to their phishing sites. Or they might use malicious ads to infect your device. Or they could run malicious scripts in the background of phishing sites.
5. Use Anti-Phishing Extensions
But if you want something more serious, try Stanford’s Anti-Phishing Browser Extensions. Their tools not only detect phishing sites and notify you about them, but they also:
- Generate phishing-resistant passwords.
- Secure your browser cache against context-aware phishing attacks.
- Secure links you visit against context-aware phishing attacks.
How Do You Keep Your Data Safe?
Do you follow all the tips we mentioned here, or do you only stick to a few of them?
Do you also use additional tools to protect your data? If yes, go ahead and tells us about them in the comments.
Also, if you have any tips that can help people avoid phishing attacks and fake hotspots, don’t be shy and share that info with the rest of us.