Latest research shows that two-thirds of people plan to travel for leisure this year. To stay connected, 50% of them will use public Wi-Fi, along with airport Wi-Fi (41%) and public transport Wi-Fi (31%). However, these connections put travelers’ privacy at risk as hackers can use them to steal internet users’ data.
“Travelers tend to use public Wi-Fi on holiday because it’s cheaper than using their own mobile data and incurring roaming charges. This puts travelers’ privacy and security in danger because most public Wi-Fi is poorly configured and allows hackers to place themselves between a person and the Wi-Fi connection,” NordVPN cybersecurity expert Daniel Markuson explains.
What are the dangers of public Wi-Fi?
As McAfee’s research shows, only half of travelers take the same online security measures that they take at home when they’re abroad. Travelers can also be easier to trick as they usually don’t know what the legit Wi-Fi name in a certain place abroad may look like. This makes it easier for hackers to set up “evil twins” - fake Wi-Fi hotspots - in places frequented by tourists, like airports or train stations. If a traveler connects to such a hotspot, all their personal information (including credit card details, private emails and various credentials) will be sent to a hacker.
However, legitimate hotel or airport Wi-Fi networks can also be unsafe because they’re still public. A hacker can connect to an open network anytime and snoop on users’ online activity and steal their passwords and personal information. This attack is called a man-in-the-middle attack and is performed when a cybercriminal places their device between the connection with a person’s device and the Wi-Fi spot.
How can travelers protect themselves
Even though public Wi-Fi poses risks to our data, it still remains a necessity for many travelers. Experts at NordVPN listed what users can do to keep their devices protected during the holidays:
• Look for secured Wi-Fi. Holidays can be a great time to disconnect from social media, work emails and the rest of the online world. But if you need to connect to the internet to check your trip details, make sure you connect to a network that looks safe and legit.