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Public wi-fi networks - handy or hazardous?

The word cybercrime may bring to mind nerdy types hacking into banks or the FBI. In fact, we are all possible targets for cybercrime. We understand security in the physical world – we lock our doors and insure our valuables – but the virtual world can seem confusing.

Over the next few posts, we’ll look at ways in which you may be vulnerable and, more importantly, what you can do to beef up your virtual security.

In this post, we’ll look at public wi-fi.

Imagine the scenario, you pop into a coffee shop for your morning caffeine fix. While the barista is preparing your drink, you connect to the shop’s free wi-fi to check your emails and social media feeds.

So far, so good … right? Maybe not.

Connecting to an open, free wi-fi network might sound great but can leave you open to a cybercriminal intercepting data that you use whilst online (e.g. browsing history, passwords, personal information, etc)

What can you do?

Are you sure it’s a legitimate wi-fi network?

Are you connecting to the network name as provided by the venue or just searching for a network? Cybercriminals may create a network that looks similar to the correct one – e.g. ‘CostasCoffeees’ or ‘Starbuckies’ as a way to snoop on your activities. If in doubt, ask a member of staff for details of their free wi-fi.

However, even legitimate networks can be unsafe as it’s still possible to obtain data from open networks.

How can we help?

We would recommend using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your smartphone or tablet. It’s a little app that protects data that you send and receive away from prying eyes.

We can suggest one that’s suitable for your device and budget - get in touch if you'd like to know more.


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