If you want to save money on your phone bill, you shouldn’t spend the mega-contracts. One solution when you are away from home is to connect to a public WiFi network area.
But often this is not possible, as these networks are for commercial customers. If you want to access them without paying, don’t worry. In this article we will show you how you can get around all the restrictions they impose on you.
We will also talk about how public networks can become a big headache for our private data. If you want to know why this is so and how you can protect yourself, we invite you to continue reading the following paragraphs.
What is a Free WiFi Zone and how do these types of networks work?
A Free WiFi Zone is a technological tool used in public spaces so that people can access the Internet for free. This type of technology works through routers or hotspots, which are access points to the web and are connected to a router.
Before you go any further, you need to know that a MAC address is a unique number that is assigned to each device at the time of manufacture, whether it is a computer or a mobile phone. This way, every time you enter any wired or wireless network, the computer you connect to is detected by the administrator via the MAC.
In our case, free WiFi zones are nothing more than a wireless network, so they use the same method to identify the devices that connect to the network. Therefore, the filter used by the owner of the wireless network is the MAC address. That is, if you meet the requirements imposed by the administrator, you will be able to surf the web for a certain period of time.
Steps to reconnect to a public network, even if your MAC is blocked
As we told you before, the WiFi network administrator uses the MAC address to identify your device. If you do not meet some of their requirements, they will block the MAC and not allow you to log in.
But fortunately, there are shortcuts you can take to reconnect to the public network, even if your address is blocked. The steps you need to take to fix this problem will depend on the method you use. We’ll show you how to do this in each case:
Forge MAC Address
To make up the MAC of a Windows computer you must follow these steps:
- Download Technitium.
- Once you have installed it you must start the program to change the MAC.
- After a few seconds you will see a list of all the network adapters that are available.
- Select your computer’s adapter. You will find a detail of the selection and then you must click on “Continue”.
- Find the Information tab and choose the “Change MAC Address” option.
- Enter the new address in the field provided and then click on “Change Now! You can use any MAC, to do this you must press on Random MAC Address.
- When you want to restore the MAC address, you must select “Change MAC Address” and then click on “Restore Original”.
If you have an Apple computer, you will follow this guide:
- Download the LinkLiar program.
- Once the software is installed, you must open it and go to the “Preferences” tab.
- Click on the wheel that will appear prominently on your MAC.
- After a few minutes, close the window and you can enjoy public WiFi again.
When you want to return to your original address, you must clear your browser’s cookies and cache to prevent any malware from remaining on your computer.
Use remote DNS
When you want to connect to a paid public WiFi network, there is an automatic configuration by which at the time you enter a given website, the browser automatically redirects you to a portal to enter the user ID and password. If you meet the requirements, access the page you were trying to enter, otherwise the MAC is blocked.
To solve this problem you will have to use a remote DNS provider. This arises because every time you make a request it is redirected to the website, but it does not do so with the protocol that your device needs to follow in order to connect to the IP, i.e. the DNS provider.
Therefore, you can bypass the MAC blocking by using a remote DNS provider. To do this, you will need to follow these steps:
- Download DNS Jumper, either for Windows or MacOS.
- On the left side click on “Select network adapter” and look for the one for your computer in the list that will be displayed.
- You will see, in the field “Choose a DNS server”, a list of available servers. You must choose the one that suits you best and select the option “Apply DNS”.
In case you want to have a fast DNS, go to the option “Faster DNS” and click on “Start DNS test”. You will be given a list of the fastest DNS. Select one of the fastest and then click on “Apply DNS Server”. To finish, click on “Apply DNS”.
What are the main risks of connecting to public WiFi areas?
The main risks a person has when connecting with his device to a Public WiFi Zone are
“Man in the Middle” Attacks
When a device connects to a WiFi wireless network, it requests information from the router to be sent to the server where the website is hosted. After a short period of time, the data packet makes the inverse path, going from the server to the router and from the router to the person’s mobile phone.
One of the most important risks with this type of connection is becoming a victim of an attack called Man in the Middle. This consists of intercepting data when the user requests information from the router to the website.
So an intruder can know all the activity and data that travels undetected. This produces great inconveniences for the person, since the attacks have a high rate of effectiveness due to the fact that the hacker can obtain private information in a very easy way.
Theft of personal data
With what we explained in the previous paragraph, not only the information intercepted in the data journey between the router and the device is at risk. Also vulnerable are confidential, personal computer elements and passwords to access different apps that may put your economic, social and work situation at risk.
This is because, when entering a WiFi network, the hacker is able to access, whenever connected to your same network, the laptop or mobile phone. This way, he can know all the most important data you have stored in your computer.
False access points
Nowadays, computer tools can be found that allow the creation of false open wireless networks, i.e. simulated Internet access points. Hackers create a network without any restrictions and assign it an SSID, or network name, that belongs to a nearby location or entity and is recognized. For example, that of a bar.
In this way users enter, thinking they are accessing the open network of the bar, but in reality they are linking to a signal from a hacker, so the intruder manages to intercept all the information that travels between the connected device and the servers.
This technique generates that the computer equipment can be accessed and any activity desired by the attacker can be performed. For example, changing DNS servers to redirect them to malicious targets.
You should not forget that to form a WiFi network you need to connect the devices over the air, but for that you need the presence of a router. Therefore, just as you can attack mobile phones and computers, you can also hack into routers.
In this way, it is possible to create a robotic network, called “botnet”. With it, actions are automatically executed to all devices that are infected, ie the router and computers that connect to it.
Tips for connecting to a free WiFi zone safely
- When you want to connect to a WiFi network you have to be sure of where it comes from. That is to say, you must find out by means of the name assigned to the network if it belongs to the entity that appears in the SSID. You must do this consciously because, as we explained before, there are hackers who simulate networks of bars, hotels and other public places for you to connect to their underground WiFi.
- You should not make financial transactions when you are linked to public networks, as your device is in danger of being attacked by the Man in the Middle technique. Also, be careful not to access email or social networks. In case you need to do so in an emergency, you should take all privacy precautions. For example, access in unknown form in the browser, use the virtual keyboard and when you disconnect, delete immediately all the cookies.
- Don’t download files from people you don’t know, and if you get sudden pop-ups, you should disconnect as quickly as possible and run your antivirus. It’s likely you’ve had some sort of malware installed.
- We already told you that you should not enter those sites where you have saved your username and password, but if you need to use it and you see that you are asked to enter your credentials again, please do not do it. You may be in the presence of pishing activity and your data will be stolen.
- Always try to navigate in secure sites with HTTPS protocols. This way you will lower the risk of being intercepted in the conversation between your device and the router.
This post is also available in: Português (Portuguese (Brazil))