It seems like every day there’s another story about the dangers of connecting to public WiFi networks. From hotel hackers to shopping centre snoopers, users of public WiFi face many potential risks. Of course, these stories serve a real purpose. If the public’s private details are at risk, they have a right to know. Simultaneously, public information campaigns about staying safe online are so common, it can be easy for people to overlook them.
Although Sygnal comes with a number of robust cyber-security measures, there’s no such thing as a completely secure network. In open-network WiFi, there is always a risk of being targeted. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to staying safe when browsing a public connection.
Avoid inputting personal details
Limiting your sensitive activity when on a public WiFi network is just common sense. It should go without saying; never enter passwords or financial details on public WiFi. Still, you’d be surprised how many people fall prey to hackers after entering their card details while on a public network. From online banking to shopping sites, any online action that entails entering financial details should be avoided at all costs.
The same goes for submitting Personally Identifiable Information (PII). That means you should probably wait until you’re on a secure personal connection before you start filling out application forms. Of course, every Sygnal WiFi network is also structured to be completely GDPR compliant, ensuring no PII is retained.
Verify you’re connecting to the real network
As public WiFi becomes more commonplace, so hackers have evolved to introduce new methods of capturing valuable, personal information. One of the most popular is to set-up bogus wireless connections in the hope unsuspecting users will connect. Once a user has connected to one a ‘bogus hotspot’, hackers can view the activity and even trawl the device for private information. Avoiding these spoof hotspots, however, shouldn’t require a degree in cyber-security. All it takes is a bit of diligence and common sense.
Every bus connected by a Sygnal Server, for instance, will include the official server name, usually displayed inside the bus. If you can’t see the server name, ask the driver, and verify how it’s spelt (including capital letters).
Stay secure everywhere
Of course, you could say this rule applies to any online activity. The first line of defence of your personal details; creating strong, unique passwords and changing them regularly should be common practice for everyone online. However, these safeguards become even more important when browsing a public connection.
The reality is, hacking users through guessing their passwords is relatively rare these days, but that’s no reason to get careless. Staying safe online is about limiting all possible risks; vigilance and an abundance of caution can go a long way.
Stick to secure sites (HTTPS)
Another seemingly obvious precaution, this one becomes doubly important when browsing on public WiFi. In HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), the communication protocol is encrypted using Transport Layer Security. In standard HTTP websites, data is sent over the connection in cleartext. This means any eavesdropper to the network can see the web pages you’re visiting and the data you’re transferring back and forth.
When you connect to an HTTPS-secured server, however, your browser checks the website’s security certificate and verifies it was issued by a legitimate certificate authority. This helps you ensure you’re actually connected to the real website. While this still doesn’t guarantee total privacy, it significantly decreases the risk of browsing online.
Secure Passenger WiFi-security
We recognise that a single line of defence is not enough to perturb hackers. That’s why Sygnal comes with a custom firewall and several in-built security features*. Simultaneously, the encrypted network settings are designed to present hackers with as many obstacles as possible. While that doesn’t guarantee a hacker will never gain access, it does make it significantly more difficult. As a dynamic 4G WiFi connection, the only way a hacker can access the network is by being on the bus.
Sygnal limits certain features through the WiFi. Passengers are reminded on first connection to avoid unsecured sites and to be careful about the type of communications they send over the connection.
Of course, public WiFi can pose risks, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Sygnal WiFi enables you to browse your socials, catch up on work and keep in touch with loved ones. By taking the right precautions, you can enjoy rapid, robust WiFi on the go!
Finally, read the terms and conditions before connecting to any WiFi network; yes, we know they’re boring, but they’re there for a reason.
If you want to learn more about Sygnal and trying Secure Passenger WiFi on your vehicles, get in touch with us today.
*The exact spec of which we won’t detail here, for obvious reasons.