Needless to say, public internet presents many of us with challenges, not least of which are prying eyes. Experts advise users never to conduct personal transactions over free internet. This includes online banking, online gambling, or the transfer of sensitive information. It is obvious that public Wi-Fi is available to anyone in the vicinity – and not everyone is a friendly face.
Going on Vacation? Free Hotel Internet is a Risky Proposition
Traveling is a lot of fun, but nobody wants an internet mishap to occur when staying at a hotel. Unfortunately, the nature of public Wi-Fi at hotels is such that security is lax. It is easy for hackers, scammers, and malevolent tech-savvy individuals to compromise laptops, PCs and tablets. The only thing that is needed for public Wi-Fi access is the guest’s name in the room, sometimes just the room number.
This is clearly a weak form of security. Much the same is true whether a person is in a hotel room, at the pool deck, or downstairs in the lobby. If public Wi-Fi is being used, the integrity of the user’s personal information is compromised. A myriad of sources is available to hackers to infiltrate our browsing activity, including programs that analyze traffic and programs that monitor browsing sessions and hijack them. We can guard against such activity by employing safe browsing habits such as using effective antivirus programs like Panda, firewalls, password protection tools, and various add-ons for browsers.
Sitting at a Local Coffee Shop Using Free Wi-Fi
What better place to get some fresh air, enjoy a croissant and a cappuccino, and get some work done than the local Starbucks? Coffee shops are social venues, and Internet users young and old frequent them daily. It’s common to see students completing their university assignments, human resource personnel conducting online interviews, or even folks purchasing goods on Amazon. The problem with coffee shops, cafés and restaurants is that internet security is nonexistent. Anyone who is sitting there at a table close by could be engaged in hacking activity and we would be none the wiser. Unencrypted networks are a no-no. No passphrase is needed to access the internet and this means that anyone can see which websites other people are visiting. Sometimes hacking is as easy as the person at a table nearby peering over your shoulder, perhaps even watching keystrokes. The only way that public browsing should be done is when it is on an encrypted website.
This begs the question: What types of devices are easily compromised on public Wi-Fi networks? The answer is all of them. The public network option must always be selected over the private network option with free Wi-Fi. That’s because Windows computers will not share sensitive files over a public network. On local networks, it’s easy to share files across different devices.
Wi-Fi at the Public Library
Libraries are another hotspot for scam artists plying their trade via free Wi-Fi. Since anyone can visit a public library, it’s common for hacking of sensitive information to take place. The security of public library internet is negligible. The golden rule is as follows: Never conduct sensitive transactions with public Wi-Fi. If it is necessary, a VPN should be used, along with a firewall and a tough antivirus software program like McAfee. It’s simply not worth the risk of exposing your sensitive information to potential hackers and having to deal with the collateral damage.