- Posted by Jared Peno
Public WIFI is a convenient and sometimes necessary utility to tap in to our personal and professional online lives. Connecting to a coffee shop hotspot is an attractive proposition, lets face it, free anything is pretty attractive! Proceed with caution however, because public WIFI is a prime target for bad guys. It is in these freely available connections that other bad actors can use tools to steal your information. In many cases, techniques like man-in-the-middle attacks can compromise your online passwords. A successful exploit of even your email could be used to reset your passwords for many other accounts.
Safeguards exist and should be used as part of your habitual online hygiene. Here are three easy ways to prevent victimization.
Use a VPN.
A virtual private network or VPN ensures that your internet traffic is private through encryption. Any online activity, whether encrypted natively or not will pass through a VPN and become encrypted. VPN connections are sometimes provided by your corporate IT department, but if not, use a subscription VPN like ExpressVPN.com offers.
Scrutinize the Connection
Is the WIFI signal weak? Is it spelled correctly? Does it require authentication? If you are sitting at a local coffee shop and you are about to connect to a WIFI signal called “Coffe Shop” you may want to rethink connecting. Bad guys broadcast open wifi signals in public places to get you to connect to their bad network and they will use tricks like a closely misspelled WIFI network name. Similarly they also can broadcast from a nearby location, which would cause the signal to be a little weaker. Make sure the WIFI signal you are about to connect to is sponsored by the business you are patronizing.
Use 2 Factor Authentication
This is a safeguard that allows you to log in to an account only after you provide the correct password along with a correct ID number. This is commonly referred to as providing something you know (password) and something you have (random token). The combination of these two methods of authentication mean a tremendously difficult task for a hacker to break-into your online life.
Jared is an Electrical Engineer with over 10 years of IT experience. He is an expert IT strategist with a mind for innovation and process improvement.
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