Monday, March 3, 2014

Be Careful When Using Your Coffee Shops Free WiFi

Graph on computer in Coffee Shop
computer in Coffee Shop (Photo credit: ota_photos)
Today there is two things that really go together and that is WiFi and Starbucks coffee. If you don't have home internet access you may go to Starbuckss, McDonalds or some other free WiFi hot spot to check your mail or do your banking. What you may not be aware of is you are putting yourself at risk for hackers stealing your data and passwords. Open access hot spots are being used by hackers to gain access to unsuspecting computers user more than ever. Most people are not aware of this are are not prepared or know how to combat it.

Last year I took a week long vacation. While on the road I still had to maintain this website, check email and perform other tasks online. I used the free WiFi access the hotel provided without problems. While using the free WiFi, my system was accessed by a third party. I thought I was protected by the hotels and my firewalls but soon found out I was wrong. I later found out my files were accessed and passwords had been compromised.

Needless to say I was quite angry that the hotels system was not locked down for their guests and no one had informed me my computer was so wide open and vulnerable.

I did some research for myself and found out that free and simple hacking tools are available for even tech-challenged hackers. A Wi-Fi user’s personal information, documents, contacts, photos, media, and even login credentials could be scooped up quick and easy. Hackers can retrieve passwords from your registry or by checking your keyboard activity.

If you are worried about data security, spilling your Brown Sugar Cinnimon Latte on your laptop should not be your only concern at your local coffee shop. Public Wi-Fi is usually an unsecured ad hoc network, which doesn't require a password or log-in credentials to access the network. Hopefully in the near future, baristas will write the Wi-Fi password on your coffee cup.





What's the Solution


When I found out how easy it is to secure my laptop I couldn't believe it. There is a software that I installed that encrypts everything I put out over the internet. It creates what is called a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This VPN uses the same type of encryption that banks and credit card companys use when they are transferring their critical data. This VPN software encrypts and secures everything you send and receive—web traffic, emails, and IMs.

A VPN works by creating an encrypted “tunnel” between your device and a secure server in another location. All of your data travels through the tunnel at high speed, invisible to anyone else who might be looking. It was easy to install and costs about the same as my Netflix subscription. Now when I use my laptop at free Wifi access spots I don't worry because I know my data is secure.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know how risky it could be to be using free internet over coffee shops. Thank you so much for sharing this and of course, for the simple solution. Looking forward for more posts from you.

    ReplyDelete

Join 1000's of People Following 50 Plus Finance
Real Time Web Analytics