Wireless + Careless = Dangerous
Wireless Internet service is extremely convenient, and it is becoming commonplace. People connect to the Internet through wireless routers at home
, and through wireless hot spots when they are out.
But Wi-Fi can also put your smartphone
, laptop, or tablet computer and its data at risk. An invisible intruder can watch unobtrusively while you go online, and capture your passwords and account numbers as you enter them. That can lead to ID Theft, credit card fraud, and all manner of financial headaches.
On the Road: Free Wireless Hot Spot, or Danger Zone?
A free public Wi-Fi hot spot is like an oasis, offering Internet-thirsty visitors a chance to get connected. But many security experts warn against using public hot spots. If you are going to use them, observe these safety tips:
- No WPA? No Thanks – Only connect to hotspots that utilize WPA (or WPA2), the most secure type of Wi-Fi connection. And if there’s no privacy statement on the hot spot’s website, you’d be better off not using that hot spot at all.
- Beware the “Evil Twin” Network – Thieves can set up their own hot spots just about anywhere, and give them any name they like. Don’t just jump onto the network that seems to have the right name, or the one with the strongest signal. Make sure the hot spot you are connecting to is the one operated by the hotel, airport, coffee shop, etc. that you are visiting.
- Beware the Guy at the Next Table – At hot spots, limit yourself to browsing the web. Don’t conduct business, or enter any account numbers. Avoid connecting to websites that require you to enter a password. Easy-to-use hacking tools now available on the Internet give anyone the ability to snoop on you while you surf at a hot spot. These tools make it simple for other people to see what you do online and log onto the sites you visited, as you.
- Disable the Automatic Connection – Many devices are set to automatically connect to any available wireless signal. Make sure your device asks you before connecting. And when you are finished online, disable the wireless connection. That will close the door on snoopers who could secretly mine your device for information even if you aren’t using the Internet.
- Over and Out - When you have concluded your business on a website, don’t just click away from the site… log out, or sign off. Otherwise a snooper can jump in behind you, and enter the site as you.