Everyone loves to stay connected. Unless someone is doing a digital detox, our phones, laptops, or tablets are constantly attached somewhere to us. Free public WiFi has become an enormous asset for working professionals as now offices are truly portable. However, while we have gained free access points at restaurants, hotels, airports, bookstores, and even random retail outlets, our networks and data are at risk.
Free WiFi hotspots are sought out by so many of us public users; hackers are even more attracted to them because it doesn’t require any authentication to establish a network connection. Therefore, the hacker now has the incredible opportunity to get uncontrolled access to unsecured devices on the same network. Hackers position themselves between the user and the connection point, stealing all of your important emails, credit card information and even security credentials to your business network. Once the hacker has that information, he can — at his leisure — access your systems as if he were you.
Ways to Safeguard Yourself on Public WiFi
- Turn Off WiFi on your laptop, tablet or smartphone when you’re finished working online. A basic rule of security. If you don’t need something connected, then don’t.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) connection when connecting to your business through an unsecured connection. Even if a hacker manages to position himself in the middle of your connection, the data here will be strongly encrypted. Hackers aren’t that dedicated to go through a lengthy decryption process. They are looking for the easy targets.
- Enable the “Always use “HTTPS” option on websites that are favorites of yours or require some sort of credentials. Hackers know that people reuse passwords, so if a username and password for some random forum is the same as it is for your bank or corporate network, then sending these credentials in an unencrypted manner could open the door to a smart hacker.
- Keep Your Antivirus and Anti-malware Up to Date.
- Log out of an account when you are finished. Never stay permanently signed in to accounts.
Personal cyber security is smart and necessary. We travel for business, leisure and learning. Even the most prudent of us will use a free, unsecured mobile public hotspot at some point during throughout daily experience and travel. Taking simple steps toward smarter operating practices, all of us will dramatically reduce our risk and appeal to the cyber criminal who is lurking in every hotspot.