Why Your Phone’s 4G Is Safer Than Public WiFi
There are plenty of ways to reach the web in today’s increasingly connected mobile world. You’ve already tried 3G and 4G connections. Are you anticipating the global 5G launch as much as we are? And what about the possibility to connect to a public WiFI hotspot for free? The sweet lure of accessing your favorite social media networks without wasting your own mobile data makes many of us get on the “insecure path”.
However, free doesn’t always mean secure. Every time you connect to a free WiFi hotspot you need to know about the dangers that come with them. As soon as such networks are open, they can be easily accessed by hackers and snoopers, and the network itself could be malicious. What if the network that you are going to access was set up by hackers with the same name as that of the entertainment center that you visit? You sign in without even assuming the network isn’t safe. What happens next? Your passwords are stolen and personal data leaked. Is that the result that you expected to attain while simply using a free WiFi hotspot?
In order to prevent a similar situation to occur to you, you need to be aware of all the risks that you face while accessing the web using free public WiFi.
When you access the Internet using your 4G-enabled device, you consume mobile data through a cellular network. The data that’s sent on a 4G network is encrypted and much safer than a free public WiFi hotspot. Although 4G networks can also be hacked like anything else in the world, they are still safer than open hotspots for a number of reasons.
How Does Your Mobile Device Connect to the Internet?
There are 3 major ways to get connected. Let’s review them briefly.
- 4G networks. Mobile devices use cellular connections of their connectivity providers to reach the Internet. A smart device receives data from the cellular company the same way it receives a mobile phone connection. Thanks to 4G connectivity, you can access the Internet from anywhere your mobile phone receives a signal. The data that’s being sent through 4G networks is encrypted, which makes it safer than public hotspots.
- Private WiFi connections are those networks that you use in the office or at home. It’s recommended to protect private WiFi connection with passwords and allow encryption to all data that’s being sent and received.
- Public WiFi connections are the ones that you can access in such public places as airports, hotels, and restaurants. This is the least safe way to connect your device to the Internet. You never know if your connection is secure.
Can 4G Be Hacked?
All devices that are connected to the Internet can be hacked. There is no guarantee that cybercriminals don’t make an attempt to attack your 4G connection. However, hacking seems to be in the proof-of-concept stage when it comes to 4G connectivity.
Proof-of-concept occurs when white hat hackers look for ways to compromise a system. A few successful cases of 4G hacking attacks were recorded during attempts to hack into 4G via man-in-the-middle attacks (MITM).
A MITM attack needs three players:
- the victim,
- the entity with which the victim is trying to communicate,
- and the man in the middle who is intercepting the victim’s communication.
It’s important to point out that the victim doesn’t know about the man in the middle.
Some may compare a MITM attack with eavesdropping. As a rule, attackers listen in on the transmissions being sent back and forth between two victims, two machines or a user and an app.
So, can 4G connectivity be hacked? Yes. But it’s more difficult than to attack a free public WiFi hotspot.
Public WiFi Risks
Why do hackers love public WiFi? People never miss a chance to check out their social media news feeds or look up any other kind of information on the web using free public WiFi. This makes you an easy target for hackers. On the one hand, public WiFi can seem to be a lifesaver. On the other hand, it puts you and your data at the risk of being hacked.
According to the Norton Cybersecurity Insights for 2017, hackers stole $172 billion from 978 million consumers in 20 countries. Consumers globally reported an average loss of $142 per victim and nearly 24 hours (or almost three full work days) dealing with the aftermath. In the United States, 143 million consumers were victims of cybercrime – more than half the U.S. adult online population. With public WiFi hotspots being available everywhere, hackers have a wider playground where you put yourself at risk of getting your personal information stolen.
Forewarned, forearmed. In order to protect yourself and your data and avoid becoming a vulnerable victim of cybercrime, here’s what you need to know about the risks of using free public hotspots.
Most Public Wi-Fi hotspots are not encrypted
Unlike your home WiFi network where the traffic gets encrypted between the router and devices that connect to it, public WiFi networks are not encrypted. So, a different person who is in the range of your home WiFi won’t see your browsing activity.
A different situation occurs when you connect to an unencrypted network. Here every unencrypted activity can be visible to everyone who’s in the range of a free WiFi hotspot, including your browsing history and the messages that you posted on forums. So, if you use a public WiFi network to log in to your personal banking account, people who are snooping on you will see the URL address that you opened. However, most websites encrypt such data, so your login details will be kept in secret as you type them in.
The data that we consume through free public hotspots are often unencrypted and insecure, thus making you vulnerable to MIMT attacks (that we discussed earlier in this post). This provides cybercriminals with a chance to sniff out any information that passes between you and the online resources that you visit. For example, they can access your browsing history, your account logins, purchase transactions, and more details.
One more risk that you can take while using free public networks is connecting through rogue hotspots. These are open hotspots with the names that are similar to those ones of legitimate hotspots. As soon as a person connects to the web via such rogue hotspots, hackers can intercept their data and even inject malware into any connected devices.
Tips to Stay Safe on Public WiFi
Let’s assume that you didn’t install an international SIM card into your device before your journey to a foreign country. You arrive at the airport and the only way to tell your mom that you had a safe flight is to use a free public WiFi connection. Is there a way to protect your device and connection from hacking attacks? Sure there is! Use something that encrypts your data, something like a Virtual Public Network (VPN) connection.
The primary goal of using VPN is to encrypt your data so that all your online activities will remain safe and protected even when you use free public hotspots. You can also use VPN while simply accessing the web on your cellular network. This will guarantee an extra level of security to you and your device.
Using a VPN connection is a good security habit that keeps you safe while using the Internet on the go. Such secure tunnels can protect your information and identity private so you can reach the world wide web no matter where you are and what networks you use.
In addition to using a VPN connection, here are a few more tips that will make it harder for cybercriminals to attackand steal your data:
- Don’t visit websites that contain sensitive information.
- Use only encrypted websites that use HTTPS at the beginning of their addresses. This means that any kind of data that’s submitted to a website is protected from eavesdropping and tampering.
- Don’t log in to password-protected web areas. This includes sites of banks and your social media accounts.
- Keep all software up-to-date on all devices that you use to connect to web networks. While doing so you can keep your laptop, tablet, smartphone or any other smart gadget protected from viruses and any other sort of malware while using free public hotspots.
- Enable the firewall on your device. This will prevent hackers’ unauthorized external access to your system. The firewall serves as a barrier that protects your device from any sort of data-driven malware. It actively monitors the data packs that are delivered to your device from external networks. If it sees any malicious packs, they get blocked by the firewall, which protects your device and data from attacks.
- Use antivirus. It will detect malware while you use shared networks and show an alert when it noticeы any suspicious activity or malware getting into your network.
- Each time after using a public WiFI, check “forget network”.
- Never run financial transactions over free WiFi hotspots.
- Always use 2-factor authentication. This way, even if a hacker obtains your username or password, your account details will still remain protected.
- Disable “automatically connect” on your device.
What’s the Safest Connectivity Solution?
When you access the web via free public WiFi, there are more opportunities for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities via a free hotspot rather than over a 4G network.
As far as the security of online connections is concerned, here’s how they rank from the safest to the least secure:
- Using a VPN over WiFi
- Going cellular-only
So, using a VPN connection is the most reliable and safest way to keep connected to the web while you are on the go. It encrypts all information that you receive and share through both public WiFi connections and 4G networks.
However, cellular-only solutions are in great demand among travelers. As soon as you install a 4G data SIM card into your device, you can access the web no matter where you go, without the need to worry about free WiFi hotspots and risks that you can face while using them.
Instead, a 4G LTE data SIM card provides you with speedy and limitless connectivity opportunities in 110+ most traveled countries in the world. It supports the top connectivity providers in every country that’s covered. For example, if you travel to the USA, then you can use the top connectivity services from AT&T or T-Mobile. In Canada, you’ll be covered by Bell or Rogers, and Telus. One of the best things about using 4G data SIMs is that the switch between carriers happens seamlessly. You do not need to get in touch with different connectivity providers when you plan a visit to a new country.
Choosing Lifetime 4G LTE DATA SIM card from Keepgo, you are provided with a range of benefits:
- 3-in-1 SIM kit featuring a Nano SIM card with Micro and Standard SIM Adapters that will match any device
- SIM card comes with 1GB of prepaid data
- Connect to your social media accounts and any web platform of your own choice using global 4G LTE data with no throttling at no extra charges
- A full year to use the initial data that’s delivered with your SIM card. Each time you refill, all your data will remain valid for another year.
- Refill your data using a credit card or PayPal whenever you need, using a desktop/mobile web browser or Keepgo app for Andoid/iOS.
- The SIM card connects your mobile device in 110+ most traveled countries of the world.
- 24/7 support via phone, chat or email.
Using a free WiFI connection you never know if someone who uses the same shared network with you hijacks your data, browsing history, login details, etc.
On a free public WiFi, everyone who knows where to look can intercept your data. On the other hand, if you connect to a wireless network with high-level protection such as a VPN then there is no need to worry about malware. However, you can only guess if a free public WiFI nearby is as safe as you want it to be.
That’s why always use a VPN connection when you access the web via a free public hotspot or simply browse the web on a typical 4G LTE network. Your phone’s cellular data provides more protection since your data is encrypted and your identity is authenticated.