I am certain you have heard the warnings that Public WiFi is putting you at risk. We all have heard this but how is a Public WiFi connection leaving you vulnerable to identity theft?
It makes sense to explain WiFi here. Statistically, 3 out of 4 people have used public WiFi in the last 12 months. Most of those people do not know a WiFi signal is just radio waves. Now, think about your car radio, all you have to do is tune the radio to listen in right?! Similarly, with a little know-how, anyone can “listen in” to what you are doing on an unprotected WiFi connection.
The Threats are Everywhere!
Threats are everywhere, not just at Starbucks or your local hometown coffee shop. We see access increasing from coffee shops, hotels, and airports to doctors’ offices, businesses, and retail stores. With good intentions, these locations are attempting to provide better service and access to in-store coupons. WiFi great service for creating incentives or simply a way to make waiting more enjoyable at the doctor’s office. Keep in mind, though, once you have made that connection that same connection can automatically connect anytime you are near that WiFi connection again if your settings are not set up properly on your phone or laptop.
BUT, the WiFi at my local shop has a password.
Yes, passwords are important and some businesses provide their customers with access only through a password. BUT, do you know the guy sitting next to you at your local coffee shop? Maybe, maybe not and he is on the same WiFi you are with the same password provided on that cool, rustic, hometown chalkboard with the clever password. Technically you are on a password-protected WiFi connection but again you still are sharing a connection with strangers who may or may not be “tuning in” to your information. Some places don’t do anything and leave the WiFi wide open and you could connect without even knowing it… again depending on your devise settings.
So what can someone see when they “Tune In”?
Your private information is exposed. Usernames, Passwords, Social Media account details, and everything else important to you that is on your device can be stolen from you out of thin air. The Harris Poll asked individuals about using free public WiFi and 88% of those surveyed mentioned Identity Theft as a potential issue. 39% of the people admitted to connecting to and transmitting sensitive information over public WiFi despite the risks.
What can you do about it?
We all have enjoyed and become accustomed to the convenience of a public WiFi connection. However, the risk is too high to ignore so there are a few things you can do.
- Do not intentionally connect to public WiFi or open password WiFi. Just don’t connect to these networks and you will certainly be less likely to feel the effects of Identity Theft or Breach.
- Change your settings on your device to ask you if you want to connect to available WiFi.
- Use your telephone hotspot and make certain it is password protected.
- Use a VPN, Virtual Private Network, preferably one that automatically recognizes a public WiFi connection and turns on. This option allows you to connect more freely while encrypting your data so that no one can intercept or even see your WiFi signal.
Public WiFi is putting you at risk, more available than ever and extremely convenient. Extremely convenient for the knucklehead in the corner booth just tuning in to your WiFi signal too. If we are serious about protecting ourselves from Identity Theft and Breaches, we need to take precautions. Fix the settings on your phone, use your phone hotspot or best of all use a VPN to protect any connection you choose to use.
Learn how you can protect your company and employees at defend-id.com