In this age of instant access, we’re all guilty of using a Public “Hotspot” for WiFi at one point or another. Unfortunately we as a trusting species, are under the impression that our photos, personal email accounts and our private discussions via chat rooms or instant messenger are private using a public WiFi Hotspot. But the reality is that you could be logging into a malicious WiFi network. In a recent survey by 2017 Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report, uncovered a dangerous majority of Internet users were under the assumption that their personal information was kept safe when logging into Public WiFi.
According to Norton:
- 92% of Americans have potentially put their personal information at risk while using public Wi-Fi.
- 60% of consumers worldwide, believed that all personal data is safe when using public Wi-Fi.
- 53% can’t tell the difference between a secure or unsecured public Wi-Fi network.
There are a few good, safe practices to better protect yourself from malicious Wi-Fi Hotspots and dangerous eavesdroppers. Using VPN’s or Virtual Private Networks is one solution to protect users from cyber criminals and malicious network operators. Regardless, you should always be mindful to learn and practice regularly these basic good browsing habits.
- NEVER log in to personal bank accounts or credit card information from public WiFi access points. Always wait until you are on a secure network to log in to any financial institution.
- Never disclose information like your date of Birth, Social Security number or a driver’s license ID number when using a public hotspot.
- Avoid checking your personal or work email and social media accounts on public Wi-Fi. Most people use the same passwords for a majority of their accounts, which is how many cyber criminals first look to obtain your other personal information.
- Avoid Wi-Fi hotspots with obvious names, such as “Free WiFi,” “Coffee House Wi-Fi,” and similar nearby store names.
In conclusion, use good common sense when you opt to trust a network, other than your own or at work. Just because the Barista has the daily WiFi password written on the chalkboard at the cafe, does not mean you are actually logged into a secure internet network. Identity fraud can happen to anyone. Use good judgement and protect your personal information like you would protect your own child.