Here’s why it pays to be cautious about public WiFi when traveling

Connecting to unsecured WiFi networks comes with a price

ARE your overseas holidays a case of you scurrying about town, phone in hand, in search for a strong WiFi signal?

According to a recent study by Kapersky Lab, an estimated 82 percent of travelers would tap into unsecured public WiFi, a habit that could up the risk of cyberattacks.

Meanwhile, a third of respondents admitted to visiting websites of sensitive nature using foreign WiFi, while almost half of those studied conducted online banking, shopped online, and made private calls on unsecured connections when abroad.

A report by AARP claims that travelers taking advantage of a public WiFi hotspot are opening themselves up to the risk of their internet movements being intercepted.

The report also explains that the two primary WiFi hacks are a “man in the middle” who positions himself between you and your WiFi connection to track your online movements, as well as a hacker-developed fake hotspot that mimics the name and appearance of a real one.

With either attack, victims can have sensitive information such as their log-in credentials, photos and other data stolen.

Interestingly, the Kapersky Lab study also found that 42 percent of travelers were less likely to care about the credibility of their WiFi networks when on holiday compared to those on business travel.

PCWorld recommends that travelers buy their own hotpsot when traveling. However, if public WiFi connection is a must, don’t access unsecured networks, or even think about doing a financial transaction.

Orlando Scott-Cowley, cyber strategist for Mimecast said, “You can also turn your cell phone into a hotspot, which, if there’s 4G service available, makes the connection faster than some free WiFi services.”

Travelers should also avoid plugging in CDs, disks or USB drives that aren’t theirs. Orlando added, “Hackers drop these items at public places specifically to get unsuspecting individuals to plug them into their devices in order to infect them.”

SEE ALSO: A guide to pocket WiFi in Asia