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Secure that public Wi-Fi

A WiFi connection has become one of life’s necessities when we’re on the road. Our smart phones have a cellular network we can tap into for internet access, but for laptops and most tablets, an available Wi-Fi network is the only way to reach the outside world.

We are all hungry for Wi-Fi, particularly when it’s free. We need it. We demand it. And when we find it, whether sipping caffeine in a coffee shop or waiting for an overbooked flight to Chicago, we log on, never thinking of who might lurking behind the digital curtain.    

But you need to know that public Wi-Fi is an exploitable commodity, and there are people out there ready and waiting to take advantage of your trusting nature.

Attackers have their ways, and euphemisms abound to describe their techniques for stealing your data. Names like cracking attacks, war driving, Wi-Fi sniffing and Karma attacks, all describe methods that intercept data traveling between a public Wi-Fi router (the router is the device that creates the Wi-Fi network that you are logged onto) and your laptop, phone, or tablet.

Paul Cucu, Jr. Security Evangelist at www.heimdalsecurity.com, describes this in even more chilling detail. 

“Malicious hackers might use Wi-Fi sniffers and other methods to intercept almost all the data that goes through the router, such as emails, passwords, addresses, browsing history and even credit card data.”

If you’re willing to be proactive (and you really should be!), there are simple ways to thwart these attacks. And most of them don’t require any high-tech knowledge on your part to implement.

If you’re running a Windows computer, makes sure that all of Microsoft’s updates have been installed. You should also turn off public network discovery, public file and printer sharing, and public folder sharing.

Be sure that Firefox, Chrome, or whatever browser you use is up-to-date. Ditto for your anti-virus software.

When you’re browsing over a public Wi-Fi system, verify that URL of the website you are visiting is preceded by https: (the extra “s” means secure). This means that information on that site is encrypted.

One of the most effective techniques you can use is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This creates a private tunnel of encrypted data that renders your data unreadable to hacker, even if it’s intercepted.

Just to be sure, don’t access websites that could expose your important financial and personal information. And just like at home or anywhere, think twice before clicking on email attachments.  

Be sure to visit www.SecuretheBeast.com to stay up-to-date with the rapidly expanding threats to your online, home, and mobile security, and find the solutions that improve your safety and security in an increasingly technological world.

About Kim Stone

Kim Stone was a horticulturist, writer, and editor of several publications for the University of Arizona at Boyce Thompson Arboretum over the better part of three decades. He is now happily self-absorbed in freelance writing, travel, and content marketing.

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