How to Get Free WiFi Anywhere
Mobile devices are everywhere these days. While they have some use as small standalone computers, their main utility is to allow a user to communicate with others. We’re not just talking phone calls and texting here. Today’s mobile user wants to be able to get on the Internet and interact with their social media contacts.
WiFi is the perfect solution to fulfill these connectivity needs. It allows anyone with a WiFi capable device to get connected to the Internet without the need or expense of a data plan or a cable. iPads and Android tablets would be a lot less popular if you had to plug them in every time you wanted to check Instagram.
Many home broadband users have chosen to use a wireless router to enable them to create a WiFi network and dispense with Ethernet cables to connect their computers as well as smartphones and tablets. The whole idea of the smart home relies heavily on the ability of devices to communicate with each other using WiFi.
What is Free WiFi?
Many WiFi networks are not meant to be used by the general public. In order to connect to them, you need authentication credentials such as a password and perhaps a user id. Corporate WiFi networks usually fall into this category, with their use restricted to authorized members of the organization. They are not very useful to the average individual who would just like to get online for a while.
There are, however, alternatives that offer free WiFi to anyone who wants to gain a connection. Sometimes these free networks run in parallel with secure networks, such as in a hospital where there is often a guest network as well as one designated strictly for employees. The free network may not offer the same level of performance, but it is free for anyone to use. According to statista.com, there will be 454 million free WiFi hotspots by 2020.
Is Free WiFi Secure?
There’s an old adage that there is “no such thing as a free lunch”, and in some ways, this can be directly applied to the phenomena of free WiFi. In many cases, it comes with some sort of string attached. Restaurants and cafes let you access their free WiFi, but you are very likely to end up making a purchase while you peruse the web. The owners of the establishment hope that you will make it a regular routine to consume their products along with their free WiFi.
The most problematic and potentially harmful aspect of free WiFi is the lack of security. While you may have no trouble getting free WiFi anywhere you happen to be, you need to be aware of the risks associated with using these networks. Essentially, your data is never safe when using free, public WiFi unless you take proactive measures to protect it by using a VPN, encryption, and limiting yourself to visiting secure websites whose addresses begin with an https.
Free WiFi networks are notoriously populated by unscrupulous individuals who may be attempting to steal your personal data or infect your computer or device with malware. If you choose to take advantage of free WiFi anywhere, it is your responsibility to protect yourself. Choosing to ignore the possible risks is a serious mistake that you should avoid at all costs.
In addition to the cautions listed above, you should never perform any type of financial or banking transactions while connected to a free WiFi network. Refrain from using any user credentials or passwords that will allow access to your personal data. Free WiFi can be a great resource for getting connected wherever you are as long as you use it wisely.
How to Get Free WiFi
You may want to take advantage of this phenomena and are wondering how you can find free WiFi near your location. There are ads available that can help you in your quest. If you are using a Mac laptop to search for WiFi, the KisMAC application is one option you can try.
KisMAC is an open-source tool that runs on the Mac operating system. It serves a number of functions related to WiFi networks. You can use it as a stumbler to help you locate nearby WiFi hotspots and obtain information regarding their security. The lack of security on a given network lets you directly join the network. If the network turns out to be secured by a password, the tool’s WiFi sniffing capabilities can help you crack the password if you so desire. We will discuss this further later in this article.
Let’s look at the various steps you need to take when you want to get free WiFi. The first thing you want to do is to find a free WiFi app for the platform that you are using. We have already mentioned KisMAC, but that will only work on Mac machines.
Here are some other tools that can be used to help you locate and access the WiFi networks that are all around you:
NetSpot – This is a WiFi tool that runs on both the Windows and Mac operating systems. This WiFi stumbler can be used to find out the details of nearby networks to enable you to join them or attempt to subvert their security if you find they are protected.
NetStumbler – Windows users can get also use the NetStumbler application. It can locate WiFi networks and displays them in a Windows Explorer type interface. You can easily find free WiFI with this program.
WiFi Map – Mobile users whose device uses the Android or iOS platform can use the WiFi Map application to search for WiFi hotspots. This tool is powered by a global community of users that add known WiFi hotspots to the application.
WiFi Analyzer – Here is a tool that runs on Android mobile devices that can be downloaded from the Google App Store. It shows you the nearby wireless networks on a graph and displays which channel the networks are running on. It’s a free app supported by ads.
Network Analyzer – This app is designed to run on iOS devices such as an iPad or iPhone. Included in its features is a WiFi scanner that can detect nearby networks and provide you with their details, including the type of security that is being used to protect them.
Once you have identified the local WiFi networks, you may find an open network that allows you to connect to the Internet and complete your online tasks. In some cases, you may be presented with networks that are all secured by WEP or WPA security, meaning that they cannot be accessed without the proper credentials. What options do you have if you really need to access one of these networks? In order to use these networks, you will have to crack the password.
Cracking a WiFi Network’s Password with KisMAC
Before delving into the procedures that can be used with KisMAC or another WiFi hacking tool to obtain access to secured networks, we need to strongly caution against exposing yourself to potential criminal charges. In most jurisdictions, even attempting to break into a network is a crime, and actually connecting is certainly against the law. With that being said, proceed with attempts to access secured networks at your own risk.
Breaking into a password protected network requires the use of a brute force attack in an attempt to provide the actual password that is required to access the network.
In addition to the KisMAC application, you will also need to use a collection of Linux tools known as Aircrack-ng if you are attempting to gain access with a Mac. Tools for other platforms will use a similar procedure. A password file that contains the actual password of the network is also required. We will talk about obtaining password files at the end of this article.
Hacking a WEP Network
WEP keys can be compromised by a process called a WEP injection where data packets are used to determine the password. Once packets have been accumulated you use these steps to attempt the attack.
- Click on Network.
- Select Crack.
- Choose Weak Scheduling Attack.
- Select Against 40-bit.
This should be sufficient to crack the less secure passwords that are used to in WEP security.
Hacking a WPA/WPA2 Network
Hacking into networks protected by WPA or WPA2 security is more difficult and requires that you obtain a handshake between a computer and a wireless router. You again also make use of a password file that potentially contains the credentials you need to gain access.
- Start KisMAC and choose the network you are attempting to crack.
- Click Network -> Deauthenticate.
- You will soon see devices reconnecting to the network. This captures the handshake you need to attempt the attack.
- Now you use Aircrack-ng to run a dictionary attack.
- If the password is contained in the list, you will eventually gain access to the network. If the correct word is not in your password file, you will not gain access to the network.
Obtaining a Password File
Files that contain hundreds of thousands of the most commonly used passwords are available all over the Internet. A Google search will quickly return many different files from which you can choose. Some are free, some cost money to use, and others simply ask for a contribution.
The probability that you can crack a WPA/WPA2 network is totally dependent on the quality of the password file you use in the brute force attack. Since these files are often used for nefarious reasons, they may be available on websites that also offer you the opportunity to infect your machine with malware, so caution should be exercised when collecting these files.
We hope you have learned something about free WiFi networks and how you can access them when you need to get online. Our recommendation is to use free and open networks in a very cautious manner. When used correctly, they can be a great help to the mobile user. You have also seen that there are ways to attack secure networks, and that could include your home or business installation. Take care to secure your network by insisting on longer (12 characters) passwords that effectively eliminate the possibility that your security can be compromised.