No matter where you travel in the world, whether for business or pleasure, one ever present question remains the same: Where is the free Wi-Fi? People will go out of their way to find free Wi-Fi, even when it would’ve been easier to just pay a little to save time. Take a read of this list to find some tools which will help you find free Wi-Fi, learn the risks of free Wi-Fi, and learn how to mitigate those risks.
Wait, what risks are there on free Wifi?
The risk of getting anything for free is you usually do not know what you are truly getting in return. In the case of free Wi-Fi, the usual issue is that you have no idea how it is secured. Even worse, you don’t know if it’s secured at all, or if it is a deliberate wireless access point setup by a hacker exclusively for the intent of hacking people.
Free Wi-Fi access points that are set up exclusively by hackers to hack people are so prevalent that they even have their own name: Fake WAP attacks. This is when a hacker will set up a hotspot somewhere public, give it an enticing name, and then use a tool to intercept all the traffic going through it. The person using the free Wi-Fi has absolutely no idea there’s any problem. But the hackers can read:
- Banking details
- Intimate conversations
- Company secrets
Anything shared over the hacked Wi-Fi is fair game. Check out the next for tools that will help you find free Wi-Fi, and don’t forget to read to the end to find a tool that will help you when you actually use those free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Apps and tools to get free Wifi
Avast Wi-Fi Finder
Avast Wi-Fi Finder is indeed from the people who brought you the suite of exceptional security tools. Their Wi-Fi finding tool is also notable. How it works is:
- It displays a map of all of the Wi-Fi signals close to you which are in its database.
- These Wi-Fi signals are crowdsourced and updated.
- Get a quick idea of how good a Wi-Fi hotspot it is thanks to a locally-sourced star rating.
- You can check how fast each network is before you connect. This is a very unique feature.
- Security levels have been obtained where possible. Again, this is crowdsourced and could be incorrect.
Avast Wi-Fi Finder does a decent job of helping you stay secure, but its ability to help you find free Wi-Fi is pretty exceptional. Since it comes from such a trusted name in the online app world, you can be sure that it’ll continue to remain updated.
Instabridge may be the largest crowdsourced Wi-Fi hotspot app in the world. While most other crowdsourced apps ha Wi-Fi hotspot numbers around 500,000 to 650,000, this one has over 3 million.
A significant amount of its growth comes from the fact that you can use Instabridge to connect to the Wi-Fi of your Facebook friends who are also using it. You can also use Instabridge to:
- Unlock Wi-Fi that is shared by their community
- Automatically connect to Wi-Fi which works
- Stream video in 4K
- Download locations ahead of time, and have it ready offline
- Share your Wi-Fi with family and friends without your password
This last point is incredibly important as the more people who have your password, the more vulnerable your password is.
You can use Wifi Finder on Android, it looks like Apple users are out of luck as the tool is no longer in the iTunes store. It is quite similar to Avast and Instabridge, in that it has a database of Wi-Fi hotspots. It currently has over 550,000 different different hotspots from across the globe. They are in the 144 countries.
An interesting feature is that it lets you sort the locations by the type of establishment it is. Do you want to find a place to eat that also has free Wi-Fi? All you have to do is choose to only view restaurants. If you need a coffee, and some free Wi-Fi, you can select to only view coffee shops. This is a minor detail which is pretty handy.
Everything downloads onto a map, you may want to download this map while you are on free Wi-Fi at home, or from the hotel room. It is a bit data heavy.
Think of the Fon Network as an Internet sharing plan. You buy one of their routers, paid your yearly fees, and you are free to connect to any other router out there in the world which is on their network. As you can guess, this does mean that other people are able to use your router, but you can also think of it as you take your home Internet with you everywhere at no additional cost.
There are currently over 20 million Fon hotspots around the world. The countries with the greatest concentrations include:
- United Kingdom
- South Africa
- South Korea
The United States and Canada have presences in major cities. As does China and Russia.
You need to protect yourself on free Wi-Fi
It does not matter which app you choose from above, there are always risks on Wi-Fi hotspots that you do not personally control. This involves hackers that set up fake wireless access points specifically to eavesdrop on things being shared over a hacked network.
The problem, of course, is encryption. You have no absolutely certain way of knowing that any of these Wi-Fi networks has proper encryption in place. You can solve this issue by choosing a VPN provider with strong encryption protocols. This encryption will prevent any issues with a hacker, and protect you on any of the free Wi-Fi hotspots you find using an app above.
That is a great tool to use, but you can also use a little bit of common sense that sometimes is not so common when it comes to Internet issues:
- Ask questions: If the free Wi-Fi you’re looking to connect to is associate with a business, be sure to ask someone who works there what the actual name is for their Wi-Fi hotspot. A Wi-Fi hotspot may say ‘Free Tim Hortons Wi-Fi’, but absolutely anyone on earth can name a hotspot whatever they want. That is one of the biggest dangers with free Wifi.
- Account set up: Wi-Fi networks which ask you to set up an account with it, including a login and username, is probably a scam. What they will do is take your login details and see if you have used them elsewhere, with financial institutions being a common target.
- Sensitive information: All of the preparation in the world is fantastic, but nothing beats not sharing sensitive information on Wi-Fi networks which you do not personally own. Do you really need to check your banking app over the malls free Wi-Fi, or can you just wait until you get home? You always trade convenience for security in every situation, ever.
The free tools that we looked at above will certainly help you find free Wi-Fi hotspots across the globe. You’re are already capable of finding free Wi-Fi, they just made it easier. If you take anything from this article I hope it is the security protocols that you just learned, and are sure to implement anytime you connect to Wi-Fi network which is not yours.
Author Bio: Marcus is the security writer for BestVPNProvider.co. You can catch his weekly blog post on security and privacy related matter every Wednesday. Follow the @BestVPNs Twitter account for breaking news in the world of online privacy and security.