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Public Wi-Fi Hotspots:  Five Dangers, Benefits, Safety Measures You Must Know

By Angela Violet, CITR Associate Cybersecurity & IT Risk Department South-End Tech Limited

The government of Kenya plans to launch 5,000 public hotspots this year and 25,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots by the end of 2027.

According to the status report for the financial year 2022/2023 of the Ministry of Information, Communication and The Digital Economy released by the Cabinet Secretary on July 31, 2023, the ministry had outperformed in the operationalization of the 25,000 free WI-FI hotspots target.

The Ministry’s target was to operationalize two Wi-Fi hotspots per county by June 2023. The report indicated that the Ministry had surpassed 421 free public WI-FI hotspots as of July 31, 2023. The Ministry has established a total of 194 Wi-Fi has been established in partnership with the county government in markets and around the bus terminals.

 Additionally, the Ministry had established 172 Wi-Fi connections as part of the community innovation hubs and identified 14,690 public Wi-Fi hotspots spread across the country. The Cabinet Secretary intends to launch two more hotspot centres in Kapsabet and Kericho today, September 6, 2023.

Public hotspots offer convenience and accessibility, but they also come with various damages and benefits.

Five Key Dangers of Public Wi-Fi Hot Spots

  1. Man-in-the-Middle Attacks: – Cybercriminals can set up deceptive Wi-Fi hotspots with names similar to legitimate public hotspots and trick users into connecting to them. Once the connection is established, an attacker could intercept data between the user and the Internet.
  2. Data Interception: – Unencrypted data sent over public Wi-Fi can be intercepted by eavesdroppers, exposing sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card numbers, and personal messages.
  3. Malware Spreading:- Cybercriminals can inject malware into public hotspots, and unsuspecting users can inadvertently download malware onto their devices.
  4. Device Vulnerabilities: – Public hotspots are often the target of attacks on connected devices. If your device has vulnerabilities, attackers are more likely to exploit them over public hotspots.
  5. Privacy Concerns: – Some public hotspot providers track users’ online activities and collect data for marketing purposes, which may compromise users’ privacy.

Key Benefits of Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

  1. Accessibility: – Public hotspots are widely used in coffee shops, airports, hotels, libraries, bodaboda shades, mama mboga stalls, and many other public places. This accessibility helps people stay connected on the go, increasing productivity and convenience.
  2. Cost Savings: – Public hotspots are often free or offered as a free service, saving users money on mobile data plans.
  3. Social Connectivity: – Public hotspots allow people to stay connected through social media, communicate with friends and family, and share experiences in real-time.
  4. Emergency Services: – In some cases, public hotspots can be the only available communication option in an emergency, making it a critical lifeline for emergency services and loved ones.

Safety Measures When Using Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

To enjoy the benefits of public hotspots while minimizing the dangers, consider the following safety measures

  1. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network):- A VPN encrypts your Internet traffic and makes it harder for hackers to access intercepted data. Connect to a trusted network: Check the legitimacy of the public hotspot network you are connecting. If you do not know the official public hotspot’s name, ask a staff member.
  2. Disable Sharing: – Disable file, printer, and public folder sharing on the device when connected to public hotspots.
  3. Forget Network: – Disconnect after using a public hotspot and make sure your device forgets the network to prevent automatic reconnection.
  4. Update Devices Regularly:– Keep your devices and software up to date to close security gaps.

Public hotspot offers many benefits such as accessibility and cost savings, but also poses security and privacy risks. When using public hotspots, you should be careful and take precautions to protect your personal information and devices from potential cyber threats.

Take Care and Contact us for your Cybersecurity Requirements 


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