As public WI-FI networks do not commonly require a password to gain authentication, anyone can gain access to this network with ease. As individuals are connecting to these routers to obtain internet access, the risk of impersonating routers becomes more common. This is called Spoofing Public WI-FI routers.
A malicious actor can use a technique known as ARP spoofing, this attack can be used to impersonate a network that people can connect to. Once an individual is connected, the malicious actors will be able to view traffic that is being sent to the fake router using penetration testing tools. This results in all the content that is being sent from the device to the router to be viewed by the malicious actor, including passwords, bank account details.
To reduce the risk of sensitive information being compromised when utilising public Wi-FI it is imperative that no websites that contain sensitive information (i.e. bank accounts, e-mails, company sensitive websites) are visited. If you need to utilise the internet to perform specific activities, you should you should tether to your phone and use the cellular data.
If it is necessary to connect to a Public Wi-FI to perform sensitive activities, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) must be used. A VPN sends your data through an encrypted tunnel that largely blocks the data being sent resulting in the malicious actor only being able to see encrypted data.
Another prevention technique is to download anti-virus software that helps detect if you are being attacked by ARP Spoofing. However, the malicious actor may be able to circumvent this malware tool and must be combined with other techniques mentioned in this blog.