Help Desk: Using Public Wi-Fi: Is It Safe?
If you’re like me, when you see a “Free Wi-Fi” sign in a window or pop up on your phone, you feel a certain level of joy in your heart that can only be described as overage-exempt jubilation.
How very 2017 of us.
But how safe is it to use free public Wi-Fi?
According to a recent Harris Poll, 66% of U.S adults have used public Wi-Fi and of that, 39% have accessed sensitive information while using it. This can be risky business when accessing things like: personal email, business or private documents, performing online banking or shopping online with an account linked to your credit card. Hackers can use Free Wi-Fi to intercept your data.
Wi-Fi signals are just radio waves. If you are on a “free public Wi-Fi”, essentially anyone can “listen in” to what you’re doing online.
Hackers use software or apps to hijack your information.
How to stay safe:
- Make sure you are using the correct network. Ask the barista at the coffee shop the name of the network to ensure you are connecting to the right Wi-Fi.
- Use encrypted sites. Check for https: if a site doesn’t have https your data could potentially be insecure. Simply look at your browser URL and look for the padlock symbol
- VPN (virtual private network) keeps hackers at bay, securing your private information. It encrypts all the data going in and out of your device.
- Keep apps up to date. When apps are updated they are fixing bugs and catching security loopholes. Update your apps at home on a secure connection.
- Pay attention to changes in your information: credit score and banking activity. If you start to notice anything fishy, report it immediately.
- Mix up passwords. We are all guilty of using the same passwords over and over. Just like computers, are memory can be limited. Here is a great trick to beat the password blues. Think of an obsolete thing you love. Like: coreylovescocoapebbles
Add your favorite number at the beginning or end and then specify to the site your using. Ex: 22coreylovescocoapebblesfacebook its long but it will be hard to crack and easy to remember.
- Turn off automatic sharing.
Email us for the next “Help Desk” topic: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reference: survey conducted for PRIVATE WiFi online within the United States by Harris Poll from March 11-13, 2014 among 2,037 adults ages 18+. This survey is not based on probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated