I just learned of a friend who had most of his savings stolen after his bank credentials were stolen over public WiFi. Thus, I thought I would do a post on how to minimize the possibility of having your accounts hacked and losing your life savings.
Wireless Security Tips… to help keep you safe on public WiFi.
With coffee shops, hotels, shopping malls, airports and many other locations offering their customers free access to public WiFi, it’s a convenient way to check your emails, catch up on social networking or surf the web when you’re out and about. However, cyber-criminals will often spy on public WiFi networks and intercept data that is transferred across the link. In this way, the criminal can access users’ banking credentials, account passwords and other valuable information.
- Be aware
Public WiFi is inherently insecure — so be cautious.
- Any device could be at risk
Laptops, smartphones and tablets are all susceptible to the wireless security risks.
- Treat all WiFi links with suspicion
Don’t just assume that the WiFi link is legitimate. It could be a bogus link that has been set up by a cyber-criminal that’s trying to capture valuable, personal information from unsuspecting users. Question everything – and don’t connect to an unknown or unrecognized wireless access point.
- Try to verify it’s a legitimate wireless connection
Some bogus links – that have been set up by malicious users – will have a connection name that’s deliberately similar to the coffee shop, hotel or venue that’s offering free WiFi. If you can speak with an employee at the location that’s providing the public WiFi connection, ask for information about their legitimate WiFi access point — such as the connection’s name and IP address.
- Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
By using a VPN when you connect to a public WiFi network, you’ll effectively be using a “private tunnel” that encrypts all of your data that passes through the network. This can help to prevent cyber-criminals – that are lurking on the network – from intercepting your data. This is particularly important if you are using a public WiFi site such as those found in hotels and airports and coffee shops.
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- Avoid using specific types of website
It’s a good idea to avoid logging into websites where there’s a chance that cyber-criminals could capture your identity, passwords or personal information – such as social networking sites, online banking services or any websites that store your credit card information.
- Consider using your mobile phone
If you need to access any websites that store or require the input of any sensitive information — including social networking, online shopping and online banking sites — it may be worthwhile accessing them via your mobile phone network, instead of the public WiFi connection.
- Protect your device against cyber-attacks
Make sure all of your devices are protected by a rigorous anti-malware and security solution – and ensure that it’s updated as regularly as possible.
Sandy’s tip: I rarely ever log onto my email and especially my bank account when I am away from home. It is just too risky.
- Never use the same passwords on multiple accounts
Sometimes thieves get access to accounts, such as what happened with various department stores. If you use the same password for most accounts, they will have access to that password. I use different passwords for each of my accounts. Yes, it is a bit of a pain,but I use a password manager and write them down in a secure spot. It is a lot less of a pain to you than if your accounts are hacked.
Bottom line: Nothing is secure in today’s world nor is anything guaranteed to work against these ever more creative thieves. Thieves can get access to your accounts in a number of ways. However, with a bit of caution and by following these tips, you can at least lower the risk that some fraudster will steal your money.
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