The dangers of free public WiFi

It’s convenient but is it safe?

Free public wifi network dangers. Photo:
Free public wifi network dangers. Photo:

Freedom and mobility are two of the most important values we care about here at This is what we preach and what we encourage modern day travelers to look for when it comes to exploring new places and keeping connected.

As travelers, we often get excited about finding free public WiFi networks and hurry to connect our smartphones to send a photo or check emails from back home. It’s natural and we are not against as we use it ourselves. But here is the thing – FREE often comes at a hidden cost and access to that cafe’s free public WiFI might cost you more than you could imagine!

Watch out for airport WiFi connections!

So you’ve packed and you’re ready to start a new great trip, rushing through airport security. Say you’re waiting in the airport for your flight to start boarding and think of killing time or doing some work on your laptop.  When you search for available wireless networks, you see several options. Nowadays most airports have WiFi available to use, but this option may not be free and who wants to pay for WiFi? You’ll likely also see a few other connections labeled something like “free public WiFi” and you will probably be tempted to connect to one of those.

That’s a very bad idea! Never connect to any network that is not officially recommended by the airport. You’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal if I connect to this free public WiFi network? All I need is just to send this one email or check one more thing before my flight leaves. What’s the harm in that??”

Unfortunately, a lot of bad guys out there make money on this very sort of thinking. They see a very good opportunity to exploit people who are bored and desperate for free internet. If you do connect to one of these free networks, there is a pretty good chance you will get access to the internet. However, you can almost bet that this network is controlled by someone who is after your login data or other sensitive information. They will intercept the information from that one last thing you had to do before you boarded your flight. And if that meant paying a bill, logging into your email, or any other secure action, that person has your private data and can act upon it! And they also get a bonus: you will be out of touch for the next few hours while they have the keys to your digital home.

How to keep safe?

Believe us, this topic is not a joke! There have been hundreds of tourists whose vacation have been ruined by a guy who cleaned their bank account, just before they landed  in a foreign country… In a couple of minutes, a skillful hacker can get gain access to all your passwords, including bank accounts, email accounts and more.

Naturally, here comes the question – how do we keep safe from the bad guys messing up our holidays? Here are some suggestions from our side:

  1. For starters, make sure to only use secured networks that encrypt all of your data transmissions. This will make sure that your data is safe and scrambled as it travels between you and the “mailbox.”  This ways, if there is a hacker intercepting your message, they would see nothing but scrambled letters and funky characters. Most hackers are too lazy to make the effort to break a string of code of a 256 bit encryption 🙂 Of course, no security is 100% safe, but this encryption will help a ton.
  2. When you want to use online banking or another financial service switch from a WiFi connection to your smartphone’s mobile connection. Internet roaming is costly but it does offer a second degree of safety which most hackers can’t break (leaving something for government officials to work on, right? 🙂 ) or do that from your home or office secured WiFi
  3. If you want to enjoy a holiday of freedom and mobility, without worrying about the safety of your Internet connection find a provider that rents mobile WiFi hotspots (or MiFi) – they use secure Internet from telecom operators and offer the same degree of safety as your mobile connection. For finding a provider in the country you’re travelling to please browse our MiFi directory.
  4. Here are a few more useful tips from PocketNow and a vey good article from Laptopmag with 9 tips to stay safe on free public WiFi networks

If you have any more tips or questions for us please don’t hesitate to use the contact form below or email us!

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