Why you should stop using free Wi-Fi in Singapore forever
Written by: Circles.Life
Last updated date: 24 October 2023
Maybe it’s just us talking, but we definitely get a sense of evil satisfaction whenever we mooch off all the free public Wi-Fi options in Singapore, especially in cafes. While it feels great to enjoy free internet without purchasing that mandatory cup of coffee, the hidden risks associated with these networks are alarming and we’ve sworn off it for good.
Let's explore the potential dangers of using free Wi-Fi and why you should avoid using it too.
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THE HIDDEN DANGERS OF FREE WI-FI
Using free Wi-Fi might seem like a savvy move, but it's akin to leaving your digital front door wide open. Easy targets for hackers, these networks often act as traps where cybercriminals lurk, waiting to intercept any private information (e.g. account passwords and credit card numbers) you send and receive.
Here are some of the biggest risks associated with public Wi-Fi:
• Information theft: Your private data can be easily accessed and stolen.
• Credit card fraud: Shopping online? They might just grab your payment details.
• Cyber attacks: Your workplace could be compromised through your device.
• Session hijacking: They can take over your active sessions, like email or social media.
• Malware installation: Harmful software might find its way into your device.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FREE WI-FI HACKERS
Start using a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) acts as a protective cloak, encrypting your data and hiding your IP address. Though there are some genuine free VPNs, many of them are dodgy and come with their own risks, so it’s worth investing in a reputable, paid VPN service for robust digital privacy.
Choose password-protected Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi that connects without a password is the most vulnerable type of network. Passwords aren’t foolproof since they’re often printed on the back of a menu or scrawled on the wall in chalk, but they still add an extra layer of protection, making Wi-Fi hotspots a little tougher for cyber infiltrators to hack.
Stick to networks you recognise
If you’re truly desperate and NEED to connect to free Wi-Fi, trust your gut. Brands or places you recognise like Starbucks or the Changi Airport official Wi-Fi are more reliable than that mystery “Free Guest Wi-Fi” or “St4rbucks” network you found on the street.
Most reputable networks will redirect you to an activation page or display their terms and conditions. While no Wi-Fi is fully secure, you’re more likely to walk away unscathed with one that you recognise.
Avoid sharing files and personal info
Refrain from sharing sensitive information or files on free public Wi-Fi networks. Avoid banking, sharing files or logging in to anything. Even uploading a scan of your passport or entering your credit card number can compromise your security.
Connect to HTTPS websites
Most websites are expected to have their own basic level of encryption to safeguard you from potential snoopers. When you load a web page, look in the address bar to see if there’s a lock symbol with HTTPS before the URL. Stay clear of websites with only HTTP (and no lock).
Use your own mobile hotspot with a password
One of the most effective ways to stay secure is to avoid public Wi-Fi completely and use your mobile hotspot instead. Ensure it's password-protected for optimal security.
Related read: Before You Travel: Must-know Mobile Security Tips
5G and eSIM: The future of mobile connectivity
While your current mobile plan might suffice for occasional tethering, there's a major shift on the horizon: 5G and eSIM.
• 5G: Offering unmatched speed and security, 5G promises to outpace even the best free Wi-Fi connections. Read more about 5G and its impact on streaming, gaming and more.
• eSIM: An embedded SIM (eSIM) offers an innovative and streamlined approach to cellular connectivity. With the capability to switch between carriers without changing physical SIM cards, it promotes flexibility, especially for travellers. Check out our Borderless plan.
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