6 Things to Know: Public WiFi vs. Private WiFi

August 28, 2018

WiFi offers us a perfect solution to the hectic world we live in. It's a quick, simple and effective tool for professionals to use at the office or on the go. And while public and private WiFi gives us the ability to work efficiently and stay connected, there are differences between the two that are worth noting. Make an educated decision to connect or not to connect by understanding the distinctions below. 

1. What are they?
  • Public WiFi networks are unsecured networks that anyone within reach can connect to with little or no restrictions to access.
  • Private WiFi networks are encrypted networks that require certain information to access such as passwords, codes and email addresses.
2. Where are they found?
  • Public WiFi networks are found in public areas! In places such as coffee shops, malls, restaurants and libraries, you can often find public WiFi to use.
  • Private WiFi networks are relegated to places such as homes and security-minded businesses like banks, law firms and hospitals that use WiFi to transfer confidential information.
3. What are they used for?
  • Public WiFi networks should only be used for casual internet surfing. Websites where you have to input information like bank accounts or credit cards should be avoided.
  • Private WiFi networks are best for paying bills and online shopping. Their encryption means incoming or outgoing data transfers can't readily be seen by third parties.
4. What are the risks?
  • Public WiFi networks are prone to a host of cyber threats. Bad players can intercept your connection to the public WiFi, instead secretly connecting you to their network. From there, hackers can steal your personal information without your knowledge.
  • Private WiFi networks are at risk too, even with the built-in encryption. The problem lies in the type of encryption because factory settings may be at the lowest level. Other default settings such as SSID names and router passwords leave you vulnerable to attacks.
5. How can I protect myself?
  • Public WiFi networks will always be a risk to use, but with a few safeguards in place, you can be better equipped to fend off attacks. Here's what to do:  
    1. Use second-factor authentication to add another level of security to your devices

    2. Use virtual private networks to encrypt your data

    3. Only visit SSL-certified websites. You can determine them by looking at the URL, if you see HTTPS at the beginning, the website is secured

    4. Turn off settings like auto-connect to WiFi and sharing functions like FileShare and AirDrop

  • Private WiFi networks should have additional layers of security as well. Although these networks come encrypted, there are several actions to take to truly be safe. These include:
    1. Using second-factor authentication, even at home!

    2. Switching your router's default encryption to the WiFi Protected Access (WPA) level, preferably WPA2

    3. Changing your default router administration password to something unique and unused elsewhere

    4. Updating your router's firmware when new security patches are available

6. What are the benefits to me?
  • Public WiFi networks are a great tool for professionals on the go. When you're offsite or traveling, it's easy to find, connect to and keep working with public WiFi. For businesses, offering consumers public WiFi adds that extra touch of quality service and value they will appreciate.
  • Private WiFi networks are beneficial from a security standpoint. Because you're less at risk from cyber attacks, private WiFi offers businesses the means to share confidential information while maintaining productivity and mobility. 

To connect or not to connect? If that's your question, our team of IT experts can help you decide. iVenture Solutions is an award-winning managed service provider delivering superior IT solutions to clients across Florida. As a leading-edge IT firm for small and medium-sized businesses, we provide a diverse range of services covering the entire scope of IT including maintenance, support, hosting and more. Through rapid response time, reduction of chaos and the right people, our expert team of IT professionals will fulfill your technology needs. At iVenture, we give you more time to do what matters most. 

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