Public Wifi. Worth the risk?

In our world of constant connectivity, free Wifi at your local Starbucks, Panera, or Airport is great!  Whether it's your laptop, smartphone, or tablet you can get connected in a myriad of places. Whatever your device, you need to be careful. Really careful.

When we connect to a free Wifi network, we are instantly connected to everyone else using that same connection. You may not know how to snoop in on what they are doing, but for the novice hacker it's quite easy.  This means that anything you do while on the Wifi is fair game for someone else to record.

To make matters worse, there are growing numbers of fake Wifi networks that you can connect to that are in fact connecting you directly to a hackers computer where they have scary amounts of access to what you're doing. The unsuspecting gentleman sitting in the corner at your Starbucks might be broadcasting his own Wifi network just to get your information.

Enough doom and gloom (albeit extremely real and common doom and gloom), what can we do about this?

  • Ask an employee what their Wifi is called before connecting. The Starbucks1 network might not actually be issued by Starbucks.
  • Be mindful of what you do on the internet. Try to avoid logging into email, bank sites, or any other site that requires a login that you'd rather not share with the world. If you use the same password for everything this is especially problematic.
  • Some sites will provide more safety. Those starting in https:// (versus http://) secure the data as soon as it leaves your device. However, if someone has loaded a keylogger on your computer this will not help you.
  • Even if you're not going to use the Wifi, turn off the wireless feature on your phone, laptop, or tablet. Many of these devices connect automatically.
  • Make sure your firewall, antivirus, and other security features are turned on and up to date.

Alternatively we could interact with our friends or family sitting across from us. I will try this out and report back later :)

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Comments on Public Wifi. Worth the risk?

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