Free Wi-Fi can be a security risk to your personal information.

The Dangers of Public Wi-Fi

It’s all too convenient. In many shopping and public spaces, your mobile device tempts you with fast and free internet. You may be thinking that it’s probably safe because it’s being provided by a major retailer or hotel chain. As you consider the risks, you might assume or hope for safe access, but the reality is often quite different. According to security firm, Kaspersky, “The biggest threat to free Wi-Fi security is the ability for the hacker to position himself between you and the connection point. So instead of talking directly to the hotspot, you’re sending your information to the hacker, who then relays it on.” It is impossible to know for certain that you are connecting to a safe and properly identified host. So, what can we do to protect ourselves?

Virtual Private Network (VPN):
With some advance planning, you can encrypt your mobile device data signal so that your information is unreadable by hackers in transit. It’s a little like riding a subway from your house to the police station every time you go to town. From that secure launch pad you can ensure safer passage through the internet.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL or HTTPS sites):
You may have noticed that financial and other secure sites often require you to use the HTTPS version of their website. This secure site has a special secret code that verifies its identity every time a user connects to it. This system works because a third party security company is used to “vouch” for the identity of the site for you. If you ever see warnings when connecting to an HTTPS site, it’s best to beware and keep your personal info to yourself.

Don’t Share:
Be sure to disable any file or data sharing or networking features while connected to public WiFi. Different devices have assorted features, but you should be especially careful with Microsoft Windows devices. Not only are the sharing features intended for convenience over security, but most malicious software is designed to attack the Windows environment.

Reduce Risky Behavior:
If you don’t need to be connected, just say no. Keep WiFi features disabled when not in use. If you can afford to use your Wireless Data Plan Provider, it is a better choice for transferring private or sensitive information. For tablets and laptops, always keep your security software current and up to date.

Companies like PCnet are here to help you navigate the murky digital depths. In the context of business use, these issues become exponentially more important. A more mobile workforce is inevitable. Contact us and we will be thrilled to address and solve these questions with you.

Let’s be safe out there!