Public Wi-Fi networks are a requirement these days for business managers and those who provide services, even ones that don’t have to do with informatics or technology. Pizza shops, restaurants, cafés, ice cream stands, malls, airports, libraries, movie theaters and virtually every business in the street has a public Wi-Fi connection.
That is good in an overall view of things: people in need can check their messages, use VoIP services, browse the web for news, stay in touch with family and friends and check out their social media accounts while don’t pay for the Internet connection. That sounds like a sweet deal for customers, doesn’t it?
However, there are numerous dangers that people can endure if they use public networks without encrypting their content, traffic and IP address. They could be victims of hackers, for instance, or, as it happened recently in Argentina, they could see their laptops and devices being used for cryptocurrency mining.
There are some security measures that you can take while using your mobile device or laptop away from home. If you are manipulating your smartphone, try using your data plan or visit HTTPS-protected sites, and if you are going to a café to finish that report on your laptop while you use an unknown connection, try to find a way to connect an Ethernet cable. Otherwise, you would be exposing yourself to a cryptocurrency mining hack.
In December of last year, customers of a Starbucks branch in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, noticed that there was a long delay when they connected to the public Wi-Fi that the coffee shop made available. Shortly after people started to report the problem on social media, the IT people of the business noticed that their public network had been infected with malware.
The world is filled with evil people whose primary and only concern is making money at the expense of someone else’s assets and resources. Fortunately, you can protect yourself from Bitcoin mining in public Wi-Fi networks with a VPN.
What is Bitcoin mining?
Cryptocurrency mining refers to the process in which people use computing power to solve mathematical algorithms and equations. In return, they are paid with cryptocurrencies (the most relevant of them being Bitcoin.)
These transactions that people answer with computers and graphics processing power are then verified and added to the Blockchain, or what is the same, the public ledger, thus releasing Bitcoin.
Bitcoin mining has advanced to the point in which anybody with the proper hardware equipment and an excellent Internet connection can perform it. People around the world invest in gear to make money this way.
The thing is that, usually, one wouldn’t associate cryptocurrencies (which is digitalized money backed by blockchain technology) with criminal activity or hackers trying to take advantage of a weakly encrypted free connection and intercept the data of the users connected to use their devices for unauthorized crypto mining.
Some devices may not be suited for cryptocurrency mining, so they tend to get slow because there are using a lot of their computing or processing power. Ask any person and he, or she, would tell you that they wouldn’t want their equipment to be used for those ends without their blessing.
The process: How did they do it?
The problem with connecting to public Wi-Fi networks is that you are leaving a trace so evident that you are becoming a target for all kind of attacks and mining hacks. What happens is that hackers and cybercriminals intercept the public network and install malware on the Wi-Fi router.
For obvious reasons, all the computers connected to the infected public Wi-Fi will fall victim to the scam ad the software to perform mining operations will be installed on every one of them. Said software would be making use of the native computer resources from everyone connected to the Wi-Fi router.
The delay we have already talked about comes before connecting to the router of the public Wi-Fi. If that happens, try to leave the network immediately and seek specialized help, as something is up. The standard course of action involves disconnecting from the Wi-Fi, deactivating the Wi-Fi and making sure your Internet service provider knows about the incident.
You may think you are browsing the web without harming anybody or in a secure way, but your digital assets, devices, and connection could be in danger because cryptocurrency hackers are proliferating.
While some software developments are now part of our lives in our quest to increase peace of mind while using public networks – including the novel “CoffeeMiner,” a tool that optimizes coffee Wi-Fi hacks and runs on the desktop of people devices for as long as they are connected – the best way to safeguard your computer is with a VPN service provider.
What are VPNs?
VPNs are tools for privacy and security, two attributes that come in handy if you want to protect yourself and your computer from Bitcoin mining on public Wi-Fi. They encrypt the users’ shared data, traffic, and IP address and send them all to remote servers, where they won’t be reachable by hackers trying to use your equipment to mine without your authorization.
VPNs often come in the form of online services that you can hire for a monthly or yearly payment. They offer security, privacy, and anonymity, and you will need them if you are going to connect your laptop or mobile devices in a public network.
How can VPNs save you from cryptocurrency mining?
VPNs use encryption protocols to make sure you are untraceable when you are online. That is why VPNs can protect you from cryptocurrency mining, because if you can manage to be invisible in a public connection, then you won’t be affected by the infected software.
By using tunneling protocols and technologies, VPNs can hide your IP address (which is the most obvious way to identify you online) while letting you use a different one from their available pool. Better yet, numerous providers allow you to change your IP address for added security regularly.
If you use a VPN service provider, you are taking the first step (the most crucial one) towards online security. Any web page or Wi-Fi router will not be able to inject an illicit code into your device, a conventional method for crypto mining.
TorGuard: your best shield
Out of the dozens of VPN options available in the market, the best bet for your security needs is TorGuard. The company provides the full package of services: an anonymous proxy, VPN, anonymous email and privacy bundle, all at affordable prices.
The VPN service offers unlimited speeds and server switching, anonymous web proxies for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome, full UDP download support on all socks5 proxies, and a fantastic customer support department with a live chat feature.
Users can connect up to five different devices at the same time under the same TorGuard VPN account. The company uses robust encryption and all of the most efficient protocols, including OpenVPN.
In conclusion, you should know more about the potential dangers and threats of using public Wi-Fi connections. Sure, they can save your life if you need to send a report, write an email or get in touch with your family or friends in an airport when you just arrived in a foreign country.
However, as the Starbucks crypto mining mass attack showed us, nothing is boring about enhanced online security, and there is nothing safe about connecting to a public Wi-Fi without the protection of a VPN.
A VPN will encrypt your traffic and mask your identity in such a way that hackers infecting the Wi-Fi router won’t be able to reach your equipment and use it for Bitcoin mining. And among the dozens of VPN alternatives in the market, TorGuard has proven to be the most efficient and the most privacy-conscious one.
Some other options to TorGuard: