Don’t Get Burned By a Wi-Fi Hotspot

Who doesn’t think free Wi-Fi is great? I mean come on. It’s free. Now you can surf the Internet and multi-task from almost any location even without 3G network capabilities. With Wi-Fi hotspots exploding in popularity, the number of places offering free Wi-Fi is growing every day including hotels, parks, airports, restaurants, and of course, your local Starbucks. Although most of us carry an internet-ready smartphone, browsing from a device larger has its advantages – especially when it comes to watching videos, television and movies.

But there’s a downside. Hotspots are getting so hot they just might burn you. Firstly, a public hotspot is a wireless network for shared Internet access. And in order for this sharing to work, Wi-Fi providers need to disable most of the security features in order to make it easier for customers to access. Although accessibility is a good thing, it also means that both you and the other 40 strangers sitting in the same room are all on the same open network.

Did you know that Wi-Fi signals are simply radio waves? Which means that anyone within range can virtually spy over your shoulder. It’s as easy as tuning in to the right radio station. Now a hacker can steal your private information right out of thin air with a regular laptop and some simple software. Think back to the last time you hopped onto a Wi-Fi hotspot. Did you stop to look around for evil bad guys and suspicious looking hackers?

Oh wait. That’s right. You can’t see them. But they can see you and all of your online activity. That means they can lift your passwords, personal information, and credit card numbers all without you even knowing it happened. Yikes! The truth is scary. There’s no way to be sure that your privacy is actually private when using a public hotspot. So exercise caution when using the Internet over public Wi-Fi and save divulging your deepest darkest secrets when you can be confident your Internet connection is secure.

Samantha Shah

As a secret nerd, Samantha keeps close tabs on trends, threats, and headlines in IT security to keep you safe from the bad guys. She believes knowledge is power, so Samantha is always on the lookout for new ideas, tips, and best practices to challenge convention and inspire change.