Both mobile and WiFi use radio waves for voice and data transmissions. Radio waves can easily be picked up by anybody with intent who is in close proximity with a standard laptop and some special software. It is actually really easy to listen in on a radio wave “conversation”, especially over WiFi connections. Of course, even simple encryption changes all that and using a VPN virtually eliminates the risk.
Private WiFi hotspots
Laptops and phones that receive radio signals from a mobile carrier or a WiFi location can become a Hotspot for nearby devices. That means they create a private WiFi hotspot that can be configured to provide secure access. However, their radio signals can still be intercepted by a capable hacker within range.
Public WiFi hotspots
These are normally unsecured, which means anybody can access them and eavesdrop on unencrypted conversations. Despite this, some people use them for sensitive tasks, such as accessing online banking. With possibly hundreds of people using them at a time in airports and other high traffic public locations, they are a honeypot that attract hackers every day. Credit card data, bank account access and passwords, email logins – these are just some of the confidential pieces of information that can easily be stolen.
Can 4G be hacked?
The short answer is Yes but some carriers provide encryption, which makes hacking more difficult. While 4G is more secure than WiFi, it is not in itself a totally secure communications channel. It’s the better option, certainly. Unless your phone itself has been hacked, it is difficult to intercept 4G communications. Hacking a mobile network is not for amateurs and requires expensive specialist equipment. Your communications would need to be highly valuable to someone if this were to be achieved.
Can WiFi be hacked?
Yes. Your WiFi – whether at home or work – is enabled by the router, and cheap routers are vulnerable to being hacked. What that means is more sinister than a stranger being able to read your emails. Using what’s called DNS hijacking, criminals can redirect your visit to your online bank to a lookalike fake site. Once there, you could easily be fooled into entering your bank access detail including password.
Which is the safest?
It’s sensible to assume that any Internet connection can be hacked by one method or another. Whilst 4G appears to be the least hacked to date, that may not always be the case. At the other extreme, public WiFi is notoriously unsafe when used in its raw state. The best approach is to use a VPN with both 4G and WiFi connections. There are now many cost-effective commercial systems available from reputable suppliers. Using a VPN over any type of Internet connection means your communications are encrypted and, to all intents and purposes, cannot easily be hacked.
If you have any doubts over setting up suitable encryption and security for your business WiFi or 4G network communications, then contact us at GPS Telecoms. Our experienced engineers can quickly assess your requirements and suggest the best solutions.