Public Wi-Fi is the location where you can get online: airport, airplane, coffee house, hotel, motel and more. Many people don’t give this a second thought, unaware of how risky this really is.
Public Wi-Fi is very non-secure, a goldmine for hackers who want to steal your identity and commit fraud, destroy your website, you name it. They can do this many ways, including intercepting your activity with an imposter website where you input login details—that the hacker then obtains.
But public Wi-Fi will always be risky as long as its proprietors, such as the coffee house, find that enabling security features hampers ease of use for patrons.
So even if you don’t do banking and shopping online, the wrong person can still see, word-for-word, your e-mail correspondence.
Do’s at a Public Wi-Fi
- Make sure your devices are installed with antivirus, antimalware and a firewall, all updated.
- Prior to when you anticipate using public Wi-Fi, consider the nature and amount of sensitive data on your device, maybe remove it (and back it up).
- Make sure the hotspot is legitimate; speak to the proprietor. Cybercriminals could set up hotspots as “evil twins”.
- Sit against a wall so that nobody can spy what’s on your screen.
- If sitting against a wall is not possible, be aware of who’s around you. Cover your hand when typing in login information.
- Use a privacy screen; this makes it impossible for a “shoulder surfer” to see what’s on your screen while they peak over your shoulder or from the side.
- Use a VPN: virtual private network. It will encrypt all of your online transactions, making them impossible to decipher by cyber criminals, whether it’s login information, usernames, passwords or e-mail correspondence. Even your IP address will be concealed. Hotspot Shield is a VPN provider, and it’s compatible with Mac, PC, iOS and Android, quietly running in the background after it’s installed.
Don’t’s at a Public Wi-Fi
- Don’t let your device connect with the first network that “takes.” Instead, select it.
- Do not keep your wireless card on if you’re not using it.
- Do not keep your file sharing on.
- Can you not wait till you’re in a secure location to do banking and other business transactions? No matter how bored you are waiting at the airport or wherever, do not do banking and other sensitive activities.
- Don’t engage in any serious or sensitive e-mail communications.
- Never leave your devices unattended for a single second. Not only can someone walk off with them, but a thief can insert a keylogger that records keystrokes.
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.