10 dangers of public WiFi in 2024 

10 public wifi dangers you should know
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Top 10 dangers of public WiFi  

Let us all agree that the internet is no longer want. It has become a necessity. We are habituated to staying connected to the internet, even when asleep! Getting disconnected, even momentarily, from the internet causes us to panic and become restless. Compared to the total population of around 8.01 billion people, there are 5.16 billion people connected to the internet. That is 64.4% of the entire population! The average time spent on the internet is around 6 hours, 37 minutes.

All these numbers indicate that the world is more connected to the internet than ever before. It is mainly due to the affordability and accessibility of the internet. There is a connection almost everywhere we go, be it cafes, restaurants, airports, railway stations, hotels, etc. However, connecting to them may be riskier than we realize.

Let us take a look at some of the dangers of using public Wi-Fi in 2024. If you are someone who uses public Wi-Fi without knowing much about the security measures for secure access, then you must definitely consider the risks.

How unsafe is public Wi-Fi?

Connecting to public Wi-Fi without any protection measures is always a bad idea. This is because everything that you do on the internet can be exposed to cyber criminals looking for exploitable information, such as your bank information or your shopping information.

They can simply use your credentials to commit far more dangerous cybercrimes. Cybercriminals can go so far as to create a honeypot that you may mistakenly connect to as a genuine Wi-Fi network. They may use the information that you give them, such as passwords, login credentials, and other sensitive information.

As per one survey, over 50% of people use public Wi-Fi when they find it in public places. And with the growth of remote work, there is an increased risk of using public Wi-Fi. Cyber attackers can gain full access to your confidential information, such as account PINs, personally identifiable information, preference details, etc. In 2020, over 5.2 million guests were left in shock at Mariott, where a breach had happened using Mariott’s public Wi-Fi.

The 10 dangers of using public Wi-Fi

The following are 10 of the most dangerous cyber threats and risks associated with connecting to public Wi-Fi:

1. Snooping

Hackers can snoop on your data once you connect to compromised and insecure public Wi-Fi. They can engage in profiling your digital identity and use it for malicious purposes. If you don’t use any kind of internet protection, then they can gain easy access to your Wi-Fi usage, gaining access to your location, files on your laptop or mobile, your passwords, pics, social media information, etc.

2. Malware injection through honeypots or evil twin attacks

When you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, there is a good chance that the network is not legitimate. It can be a “honeypot network,” which is a Wi-Fi network with a similar name injected with malware to extract your information once you connect to it. This usually happens in hotels. The attacker may also create a super-identical network with auto-connect enabled without your knowledge, also known as an “evil twin” network.

3. Man-in-the-middle-attack

Advanced hackers engage in man-in-the-middle attacks, where they intercept a public Wi-Fi to manipulate or steal the data that is exchanged between the user and the website that he is visiting or another user that he is communicating with. The attacker may manipulate data that is exchanged or communicated between two parties without their knowledge.

4. Social engineering-based attacks

Public Wi-Fi is a breeding ground for social engineering attacks. Attackers may deploy social engineering techniques to engage in a targeted phishing attempt. They may gain access to the internal network, where many users are connected, to engage in massive data theft. Once the attacker gains access to the information of millions of users, he may start exploiting the information by blackmailing them for money or selling their data, etc.

5. Identity or account information theft

When you connect to public Wi-Fi, you must be careful about engaging in any form of personal information sharing. Hackers may gain access to the information that you are exchanging over the network and steal your identity. They may steal your bank information, lock you out of your account, make large transactions, or use your identity to commit crimes online. Identity theft is another of the most dangerous cyber threats associated with using public Wi-Fi.

6. Password Theft

Cybercriminals may gain direct access to your account through the use of malicious software to crack your passwords. This malicious software is programmed to crack even the most difficult passwords. They may lock you out of your account and misuse your account, steal your money, or do both. If you don’t have any form of two-factor authentication, then it increases your vulnerability to password theft when you are connected to a public network.

7. Ransomware attacks

According to Zscaler Threatlabz research, there has been a nearly 120 percent increase in ransomware attacks since 2022. Public Wi-Fi is highly vulnerable to ransomware attackers who are looking to steal a huge chunk of sensitive data and lock it up for extortion. Therefore, it is critical to protect your internet access before you access public Wi-Fi.

8. Business email compromise attacks

When an employee of a big company is connected to a public network for work, he can be vulnerable to cyber attackers. Once the attackers gain information specific to an organization, they may then deploy social engineering techniques to devise business email compromise attacks. It is an advanced form of phishing attack where the attacker impersonates a trustworthy employee, trying to get his victim to engage in divulging company secrets or making a money transfer.

9. Eavesdropping using Wi-Fi Pineapple

Modern-day attackers are using a device called Wi-Fi Pineapple, which was built for ethical hackers to assess network security, to steal the data of users connected to a public network. It is available easily on e-commerce platforms, and it allows unsophisticated attackers to carry out highly complex cyberattacks.

What makes Wi-Fi pineapple dangerous is that even if the users have implemented protection measures, they will be vulnerable to the attack carried out using the device.

10. Hardware/Device manipulation

IoT devices such as smart watches, smart bands, etc. connected over public Wi-Fi networks can become vulnerable to attackers who may engage in an attack by sending too many traffic requests to the public Wi-Fi network. They may engage in an IoT botnet attack where multiple devices connected over the same network are used to orchestrate a cyberattack by infecting them with malware and turning them into zombie bots.

To conclude

We have seen how using public Wi-Fi can still be risky in 2024. We have taken a closer look at some of the most immediate and dangerous cyber threats that you are vulnerable to when you insecurely connect to public Wi-Fi.

If you are the owner of a small or medium business, you must ensure that you have the right set of policies for remote working where workers may be exposed to the cyber threats of public Wi-Fi. If you don’t have a policy in place or want to get the existing policies reviewed by experts, SharkStriker can assist you with that.

Our cyber security experts have worked at the ground level to understand the security needs of remote work in small and medium enterprises. We can assist you in policy management and implementation for securing your network.


Talk with an expert today to avail tailored solutions for your business.

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