Home Business There’s no place like home: public Wi-Fi networks are not a safe choice

There’s no place like home: public Wi-Fi networks are not a safe choice

by Kwabe Ben
  • Wi-Fi networks connect, according to Statista, over 30 billion devices worldwide and cybercriminals use this platform to amplify the reach of their attacks.
  • 35% of users in North America access public Wi-Fi networks three to four times a day, a reason why 40% of them have had their information compromised.


Do we really know what is behind the technology of cell phones and routers? As the latest Forbes study shows how 35% of North Americans access public Wi-Fi networks three to four times a day, a situation that has caused 40% of them to have had their information compromised at some point.

During World Wi-Fi Day on 20th June, Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cybersecurity expertise worldwide, highlights the importance of using secure wireless networks, which offer mobile connectivity over 30 billion devices to prevent cyberattacks on users. This is especially important given that here in Africa where the number of cyber attacks in the first quarter of 2023 was higher than the global average. In fact, Africa as a region experienced the highest number of cyber attacks per organization, with an average of 1 983 attacks per week, during this period.

On the other face of the coin, cybercriminals use this platform as one of their main tools for their malicious activities, with a growing and increasingly sophisticated repertoire. Check Point Software lists the best tips to surf the web safely:

  • Not connecting to unknown Wi-Fi: it is common for cybercriminals to use holiday destinations to create fake wireless networks by impersonating businesses, thus creating bait to gain access to their victims’ devices. Even the legitimate networks offered by hotels or restaurants often lack security systems. In general, it is best to avoid using this type of public network and, if you need to, never use applications or websites where sensitive data such as bank details or key passwords need to be entered.

  • Limit browsing to secure pages: nowadays, browsers themselves have a built-in system to alert us when we try to access websites without HTTPS certificates, but they are not a full guarantee. A good practice is to check the full URLs of the sites we visit, avoiding illegitimate domains created by cybercriminals.

  • Keep the hands where you can see them: when we are using what we consider a secure network we tend to act in a more relaxed way, being more vulnerable to attackers’ traps. One of the basics of cybersecurity focuses on always being alert, thinking before acting, and avoiding impulsive clicks or data entry.

  • Beware of suspicious emails and messages: one of the most common practices of cybercriminals is phishing, i.e., identity theft to get hold of sensitive data such as passwords. It is therefore essential not to click on links in unknown emails and not to download any files.

  • Use unique and strong passwords: using the same password for everything, or relying on credentials such as “123456”, “password” or “June 2023”, is making things too easy for cybercriminals. To stay secure, we need passwords of at least 12 characters, generated by combining letters, numbers, symbols, and uppercase, and lowercase letters. If we are uninspired or have trouble remembering them, today we have platforms that help us generate them, and even store them securely.

  • Enable two-factor authentication (2fA): if our password is compromised, our accounts are completely unprotected. However, simply enabling this feature creates an additional layer of security to protect our accounts and deter cybercriminals by adding a confirmation step required by the user prior to authorization and access to the associated account.

  • Keep devices up to date and protected: with cybercriminals primarily dedicated to finding new ways to carry out their misdeeds, a simple and effective way to avoid vulnerabilities lies in applying fixes for security bugs already detected, which we can do by simply updating our devices and applications on a regular basis.

Wireless networks are an essential part of today’s digital society, being the main capability responsible for keeping us connected” shares Pankaj Bhula: Check Point’s EMEA Regional Director: Africa. “Associated with trusted places such as our home or work, we often tend to let our guard down when connecting to and surfing whilst using public Wi-Fi networks. It is imperative to keep cybersecurity measures and senses alert to avoid any kind of risk and for users to be able to surf networks in a safer way.”

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