The convenience, ease of use, and speed of wireless connectivity have made publicly accessible Wi-Fi networks a basic requirement for working professionals. The odd thing is that these same responsible professionals — and the companies that employ them — make so little of the risks of public networks. The vast majority of wireless connections remain unencrypted, and any malicious person within earshot can “sniff” the wireless signal, gaining access to information from confidential company data to financial transactions.Why are public Wi-Fi networks so insecure? Unfortunately, the first answer to this question is often the following: the network administrator. The second answer: the users.
On public Wi-Fi networks, every user uses the same encryption key, laying their personal device open to others. Ideally, each person would have a unique encryption key, but this makes the network more complex to use and more difficult to run. And, frankly, the priority of many hotspot administrators is to minimize the number of calls to the support desk. This keeps workloads manageable and users satisfied, but it also means the network is far too open and easy to access.