Public Networks – Be Cautious of Malware

Public Networks – Be Cautious of Malware

Freely available, public networks are a huge asset to the world, and they get plenty of use. One global supplier of software for public networks, Purple Wi-Fi, reports that almost half of us who carry a laptop, tablet, or smart phone, will connect to a public network at least once a week. Not surprisingly, 18% of us will do so more than once a day.

The point is, a lot of people connect to open networks at airports, train stations, restaurants, coffee shops, and numerous other establishments. This of course includes employees who are using company or personal devices that also connect to their corporate networks.

Public Wi-Fi is everywhere. We all use it, but most people are unaware of the risks and fail to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. Unfortunately, using open Wi-Fi networks are a significant threat. Without adequate safeguards, devices can potentially be infected with malware, and users can have their logon credentials captured.

With readily available software, it only takes a few seconds for a criminal to open their laptop and setup a public network. They can name the network virtually anything they want—making it look very legitimate. It’s really easy for the average user to fall prey to connecting to a network labeled something like “Houston Airport Public Wi-Fi”. But once connected, cyber thieves can capture everything the user does, and can easily compromise their device with malicious code.

But even connecting to authentic public networks is a risk. Because all traffic on an open network is unencrypted, anyone with the right software can capture everything that traverses the network, including user names and passwords. The software to do so is freely available, and setting it up is often as simple as adding a browser plugin.

Another risk is malware infection. An infected device can potentially spread the disease to other laptops, tablets, or phones on the network. Malicious code spread in this manner can potentially capture your logon credentials, and even give an attacker access to your complete device, including your camera, microphone, files, and photos.

Users can help protect themselves when connecting to a public network by installing a VPN and making sure they specify the network as public. Unfortunately, too many people fail to take these precautions, leaving themselves, their devices, and their companies vulnerable to malware infection.

While public networks are a wonderful way to stay connected, they impact security at every corporation, further increasing the need to detect advanced malware.

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