Free wireless internet ( public Wi-Fi ) is everywhere you look these days. It is in the local coffee shop, the airport, your favorite watering hole and just about everywhere that it is deemed convenient to have free wireless internet access. Learn more about how to share Wi-Fi internet connection wirelessly.
Sure, on one hand it is a super convenient accommodation to have, but, on the other hand, it can pose a serious security threat if left in the wrong hands.
Dangers Of Public Wi-Fi network
Personal Computer Security On Public Wi-Fi Network
A person’s personal computer holds all kinds of data, which can be used or manipulated by someone with malicious intent. A personal computer has passwords, computer account information, credit information and social security numbers.
Most people do their best to keep their security up to date and to delete any of that information when possible, but no matter what you do the information is likely hidden away in the personal computer somewhere.
Identity theft On Public Wi-Fi Network
One of the biggest security threats via public wireless internet access is the possibility of identity theft. The problem with identity theft is that sometimes it is not easy to detect, and the ramifications of it can actually remain hidden for years, until the person realizes their credit rating is destroyed and their bank accounts have been emptied.
Say for example you were on a site for online fundraising- there’s a good chance you would be using, sensitive, private information. If you’re on the fundraising ideas page and you find one you’d like to give to, your PayPal or bank information would need to be used, and could be swiped at the same time, of course, this is the worst case scenario.
Other Threats On Public Wireless Internet
There are also a number of other threats posed by free, public wireless internet. The largest danger with free public Wi-Fi is the ways in which it can protect a hacker in anonymity.
Since most public Wi-Fi systems do not require much in the way of password protection, anyone can get on the system. And if someone can get into the system, then they can also hack the system and find all the useful information that they want in order to steal someone’s identity.
Oftentimes, when a hacker does hack a public Wi-Fi system and steals the information, the system is so overloaded with different users every day that it is nearly impossible to determine who the hacker was and how he got the information in the first place.
Fake Public Wi-Fi Connection
One scheme that occurs is when a hacker sets up a fake public Wi-Fi connection, and hopes to lure people into using it. If the person does use the free public Wi-Fi connection, then the hacker can essentially track every single move that person makes while online with their Wi-Fi connection. The horrible thing is that most people cannot tell the difference between a real public Wi-Fi account and a fake public Wi-Fi account because they are identical in every way.
How to Stay Safe On Public Wi-Fi Networks
The best security practice one can take, other than having the latest security upgrades and software installed on their personal computer, is to only use public Wi-Fi that you are positive is from a real and reliable sources like the local coffee shop for instance.
It is important to ask an employee what the name and password is for the public Wi-Fi, as to avoid using a fake one that may be available on your personal computer.
Currently, there are more than 220,000 public Wi-Fi spots in the United States, and it is becoming increasingly more common for entire cities to begin their own public Wi-Fi systems.
Just recently Seattle, WA abandoned their public Wi-Fi program, which gave people access to the internet on every street corner in a small area in their downtown sector, central business sector which housed plenty of financial information that could have been used for the wrong purposes.
The best things a person can do is to make sure they are always using a password-protected public Wi-Fi account /public Wi-Fi network, and to have the best security on their personal computer as possible.