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Using an open wireless network at a public point such as an airport, restaurant, or a local coffee shop highly risks the confidentiality and integrity of the user's private information. The primary reason behind this is that open wireless networks enable hackers to position themselves in between the user and the point of connection, hence, giving them access to any information that is sent out by the user through the network (Noor & Hassan, 2013). Connecting to an open wireless network exposes the user’s device to all other users of that particular network, thus, risking the confidentiality and integrity of the information in the device. Using an open wireless network at the airport to edit a new product report on his laptop exposes Mike to a number of key cybersecurity risks, some of which are discussed in this essay.
One of the cybersecurity risks that Mike should put into consideration is malware distribution whereby an attacker can sneak a malware onto his computer without his knowledge as a result of a weakness found in a software program, also known as software vulnerability (Noor & Hassan, 2013). Cybercriminals usually exploit this security hole by writing a code to target a particular vulnerability and then inject the malware onto the user’s device.
Another security risk that Mike should consider is the Man-in-the-Middle attack which is basically a form of eavesdropping (Singh & Pal, 2017). Using an open wireless network at the airport to edit a new product report enables the movement of data from Mike’s computer to the website or service point. However, due to vulnerabilities, a cybercriminal can easily get in between the movements and access Mike’s data and, hence, interfere with the privacy and integrity of Mike’s data.
Worms, traditionally referred to as computer viruses, also pose as cyber threats that Mike should put under consideration while using the open wireless network at the airport. Unlike computer viruses, worms can propagate themselves from one device to another device that is connected to the same network in the event that the latter is not properly secured (Noor & Hassan, 2013). In this case, Mike is under risk of being invaded by worms from another device that might be connected to the network at the airport.
While using the open wireless network at the airport, Mike should also consider and be aware of malicious hotspots, also known as rogue access points (Singh & Pal, 2017). Such hotspots are usually created by hackers and given reputable names to trick their victims into thinking that the network is legitimate (Noor & Hassan, 2013). However, connecting to such networks exposes the users to cybercriminals who can now access the sensitive information in the users’ devices for their own benefit.
In case Mike has no other option than to work on the report using the open network at the airport, there are a number of safety tips that he should put into consideration in a bid to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the information in his computer. The most effective way of ensuring that his information is safe while using the open network to surf is by using a virtual private network such as Norton Wi-Fi Privacy (Noor & Hassan, 2013). A Virtual Private Network would enable Mike to create a secure connection and shield his browsing activity from possible threats.
Other safety tips that Mike could explore include visiting sites using HTTPS, disabling file sharing, logging out of the account after using them, disabling auto-connect to networks, and also ensuring that his software is up to date with all security patches properly installed (Singh & Pal, 2017).
Noor, M. M., & Hassan, W. H. (2013). Wireless networks: Developments, threats and countermeasures. International Journal of Digital Information and Wireless Communications, 3(1), 119.
Singh, E. G., & Pal, P. (2017). Wireless network components &Security protocol. International Journal of Advanced Research in Computer Science, 8(4)
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