You may know it, but connecting to a public Wi-Fi network can often lead to security risks. You do not always have the possibility of knowing exactly who is behind the Wi-Fi network. You also do not identify other users who can potentially intercept your data. Let’s take a look at the main principles to ensure your security on shared Wi-Fi networks.
Wireless security is based on two elements: authentication and security.
In theory, the responsibility for securing a wireless network lies as much with the person who sets it up as with those who use it.
The person behind the network must ensure that only authorized persons have access to the network. Ideally, it should even be able to identify every user on the network. To limit access from one device to another.
To stay safe with public wi-fi, users of the Wi-Fi network should also be able to identify themselves, although this measure is quite rarely applied.
It is important for everyone that it is possible to secure the communications passing through the network. To prevent anyone near the network from being able to intercept connections and potentially inject content.
Ideally, communications should be encrypted at all times. However, data that travels between your device and the network is only transferred when the network is password protected.
It is theoretically possible to encrypt all data passing through the network. Even without protecting it with a password, but current Wi-Fi standards do not allow it. Only the recently developed WPA3 allows it. Due to this reason, you should always protect your network with a password in order to activate the encryption measures. It does not matter that everyone knows the password in question since each user is assigned their own encryption key.
There are two main standards for securing Wi-Fi networks: WEP and WPA.
WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy, often incorrectly referred to as “Wireless Encryption Protocol) is the older of the two. It is considered insecure and has largely been replaced by WPA and WPA2 since 2004.
WPA and WPA2 were developed at the same time. WPA is an intermediate solution for devices that do not support WPA2. It offers them enhanced security compared to WEP. However, like the latter, WPA is considered not to be secure at all since 2012.
WPA3 exists, but it is not yet accessible everywhere. It increases the level of security and respect for privacy. By default, it encrypts all connections passing through the Wi-Fi network.
How to protect your wireless Wi-Fi network?
You should always use WPA2 as a security system.
- Enable encryption on your network to ensure that your users will benefit from encryption of their data passing between their devices and your router.
- Change the password for your router’s administration interface to make it more difficult for third parties to access.
- Change the password of your Wi-Fi network regularly
- If you’re worried about people on your network committing illegal activities, we recommend that you use a VPN on your router (like the one offered by ExpressVPN ) to avoid being held responsible for their actions.
- As a user of a Wi-Fi network, you should prefer encrypted connections rather than unencrypted ones. You should use any extension for your browser like HTTPS Everywhere to ensure better encryption.
- Use a VPN for your phone or computer to fully encrypt data traveling over the wireless network, router, and ISP, like this one or just the free Opera browser extension.