Why should you turn off your smartphone’s WiFi when leaving the house?

Why should you turn off your smartphone’s WiFi when leaving the house?
Why should you turn off your smartphone’s WiFi when leaving the house?

In the ultra-connected digital world we live in, the security of our personal data has become as important as that of our home. Among the threats that can compromise data security, Wi-Fi does not necessarily come to mind. However, it is widely used by cybercriminals to access sensitive data.

When you leave WiFi activated when traveling outside the home, you expose yourself to several risks.

The risks of public connections

Most public networks that offer WiFi are not highly secure. These networks can make your information visible to other users and make the work of cybercriminals easier. There are a number of ways hackers can use these networks to reach your data:

Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks

The man-in-the-middle attack is a form of cyberattack where a hacker intercepts communication between two parties without them being aware of it. The hacker places himself between the two parties (hence the term “man in the middle”) and can then listen, modify or manipulate the data exchanged. This type of attack can occur on public WiFi networks, where encryption and security are not always guaranteed.

Malicious networks

Sometimes, the hacker himself sets up a fake public network which does not necessarily require a password. This network often takes a name similar to that of the official Wi-Fi of the place in question (the airport for example). Once the user connects to the fraudulent WiFi network, the hacker is in a position to intercept all traffic between the user and the internet. This includes visited websites, login information, credit card data, personal messages, etc.

Automatic connection: a potential danger

Current smartphones all have the ability to automatically reconnect to WiFi networks already in use. Although convenient, this becomes a big risk if the phone tries to automatically join a network without your permission.

Good practices to implement to avoid danger

Certainly, WiFi is an excellent option to avoid consuming a 4G or 5G plan, especially when you want to download or view large files. To minimize the danger on public networks, here are some best practices:

Disable automatic login

As we mentioned above, it is recommended to turn off automatic connection to ensure that you are not unknowingly connecting to potentially dangerous networks.

Use a VPN

The main problem with public WiFi connections is their lack of encryption. To remedy this, it is possible to use a VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a service that creates a secure, encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as public WiFi.

VPNs scramble your personal information, so that without the proper decryption key, it cannot be read. If you regularly use public WiFi hotspots, we highly recommend using a VPN to make your data less accessible.

Do not connect to sensitive sites

If you still decide to use a public WiFi connection, avoid consulting sites that require password access, such as social networks or your online bank.

Hackers know that many people use the same passwords for multiple sites. Sometimes they only need information from a single site to access all your sensitive data, including your banking data, your social networks, or even your crypto wallet.

Use HTTPS only

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a secure version of HTTP, the protocol used to transfer data over the web. It adds a layer of security to HTTP and encrypts communications between your browser and the web server. When browsing the internet on a public network, make sure you only visit sites that use this protocol. To check if you are on a secure site, take a look at the site’s URL. This must start with “https://”.

Keep your apps up to date

Make sure your apps are always up to date. Updates often fix security vulnerabilities that were discovered in previous versions of your applications.

These vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers to carry out attacks. By installing updates, you close these potential accesses that hackers could otherwise use to compromise your devices and data.

To always be on the latest versions of your applications, it is possible to activate automatic updates. This can be done via the iPhone settings in the “App Store” section or in the Google Play Store settings on Android.

Turn off your phone’s WiFi entirely when you leave the house

The best solution remains the simplest: deactivate the WiFi on your phone and favor access to the Internet through the connection sharing, or “hotspot”, of your mobile phone. This way you will have a secure connection dedicated to your use. However, be sure to use a strong password to ensure that no one can connect to your hotspot.

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