Wired internet or wireless WiFi, the warnings are out there: Don’t visit any websites that you have important accounts with when using a public computer (hotel, airport, café, etc.).
Visiting even a more trivial account, such as an online community for cheese lovers, could sink you—in that a cyber thief might get your username and password—which are the same ones you have for your bank account, PayPal and Facebook.
Why is public Wi-Fi such a bad thing for shopping and banking and other such activities?
- As already touched on, a roving hacker could glean your username and password, or credit card number and its three-digit security code when you do online shopping, because the cyber communications of public Wi-Fi are not encrypted. They are not protected or scrambled up. The cybersnoop can thus see what everyone’s passwords, usernames and account information is.
- Hackers can also see what sites you’re visiting and what you’re typing on those sites.
If you plan on using public Wi-Fi, make sure your device has full protective software including a firewall (and you should always have these anyways).
When connecting to public Wi-Fi, always choose the “public” network rather than the “home” or “work” options when using Windows. This will prevent Windows from sharing files.
If you absolutely must conduct work or personal business while on public Wi-Fi, then use a VPN: virtual private network; it scrambles communication into gibberish by encrypting it.
Malicious Locations for the Wi-Fi
Don’t assume that a hacker is far away when he snoops for something to steal. For instance, the “hotspot” to connect online may have been set up by a thief like a spider in a web waiting for flies. Additional ways a hotspot could be malicious:
- HTTP connections can be hijacked by software called sslstrip. This software generates copycat links—a domain name that looks just like the authentic one, but appearances are deceiving because these imposter domain names use different characters.
- Hackers can use the Wi-Fi Pineapple to set up the attacks mentioned above. The Pineapple is on the lookout for when a laptop is trying to connect to a network it recalls, barges in and claims the summoning. Pineapple is now in a position to perform additional attacks.
- Avoid online activity using public Wi-Fi with important accounts. If their site has HTTPS with the padlock icon there is a degree of security here, however, the rule still stands: no public Wi-Fi for important accounts. The only exception to this hard rule is if you have the VPN.
- Using a VPN will encrypt all of your online activities, freeing you to use public Wi-Fi for anything. Hotspot Shield is a VPN provider that’s compatible with iOS, Android, PC and Mac. It runs quietly in the background.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.
- School WiFi Often Open and Insecure
Many elementary, middle and high schools are offering WiFi, and of course colleges and universities provide it as well. Some provide the networks with a required login access, and for others it’s open, unencrypted and free for anyone to jump on. Traditionally, when we think “login,” we believe that also means encrypted and secure. However, logging
- Don’t’s and Do’s when using Public Wi-Fi
Curl up in a chair at your favorite coffee house, the aroma of premium coffee filling the air, take a few sips of your 700 calorie latte, and then enter cyberspace. Little do you know that you could have a stalker. Or two. Or 3,000. Because public Wi-Fi is there for the picking for hackers.
- What’s the difference between using Proxy vs VPN?
If you live in or travel to a country that controls what websites their citizens can and cannot visit then you might not have access to sites like Facebook or YouTube. In this case you may have considered using a proxy or a VPN.But what’s the difference? A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a network set
- 10 Million Mobile VPN Users Can’t Be Wrong
A virtual private network (VPN) is a network set up to communicate privately over a public network. For example: You occasionally want to or need to work from home and your employer knows that if you do, the data that travels between your PC and an office PC needs to be protected. Another example is
- 5 Ways To Protect Your Data On Public Wi-Fi
Wireless connections can cost hundreds of dollars annually, so it makes fiscal sense that many people seek out free connections when they are out and about. But free doesn’t necessarily mean secure. By now you’ve heard all the warnings that publicly connected Wi-Fi, such as that found in coffee shops, airports and hotels, are vulnerable to sniffers. Sniffers read the wireless