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Evil Twin Wi-Fi Hotspots: What Are They and How Can You Protect Yourself?

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Public Wi-Fi is great. It's convenient, and it's free — it always feels good when you can save a few megabytes of your mobile data. But do you ever stop and think for a moment before connecting to a public Wi-Fi network? The emergence of evil twin Wi-Fi hotspots indicates that you should.

Evil twin Wi-Fi hotspots — what are they?

An evil twin is a bogus Wi-Fi access point that hackers or cybercriminals set up to eavesdrop on network traffic. And evil twin cleverly mimics the real hotspot to trick people into connecting to it. It can happen anywhere — coffee shop, hotel, airport, or store, as cybercriminals would choose popular locations to target unaware users.

It's not that difficult to fall into the trap.

Usually, a fraudulent Wi-Fi network has a very similar name (the primary network's name) to a legitimate Wi-Fi network, so that you don't notice anything suspicious at first glance.

Here's how you get tricked.

Let's say, you bring your laptop to a local coffee shop to catch up on some tasks, order a cup of latte, and try to connect to a local Wi-Fi network.

When you open the options available, you see two open networks that look almost the same: CoffeeWiFi and CoffeeWiFi_FREE. You notice the word FREE and immediately join the network because free Internet is what you're looking for.

That's where's the danger is.

The reason cybercriminals set up evil twin hotspots is to eavesdrop on your online communications. By intercepting the Internet traffic, hackers can see your Internet activity and steal your private data, including files and images you share over the network.

So if you're about to send some personal photos on public Wi-Fi, think twice before doing that because there may be a malicious hacker seeing everything. Don't do it.

Read further to learn how to protect your privacy instead.

How can you protect yourself?

Stay on a lookout for warning signs.

Hackers mask fake Wi-Fi hotspots well making it quite difficult to recognize them, so you should be vigilant each time you connect to a new public Wi-Fi network.

One of the red flags is a sluggish connection — if the Internet speed is annoyingly slow, your Internet traffic may be routed through a malicious network. So if you feel suspicious about the Wi-Fi network you've just joined, disconnect right away.

Disable automatic connections

Go to your network settings and set your device to forget previously used Wi-Fi networks. If you have ever connected to an evil twin in the past, refreshing these settings will prevent you from joining the same fake hotspot again automatically.

Use a VPN app

A VPN (virtual private network) is the simplest option to fight off evil twin hotspots. All you have to do is connect to VPN every time you join a public Wi-Fi network. That's it — you can browse the Internet securely, with no malicious hackers snooping on your online activity and sensitive data. VPN makes Wi-Fi connection safe by encrypting the Internet traffic.

It may sound complicated, but it isn't. Top-notch VPN service providers, such as NordVPN, offer native, easy-to-use apps for all major platforms (Android, iOS, and Windows), so you can enjoy the convenience of public Wi-Fi effortlessly.

Get NordVPN Now

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