Have you ever wondered how safe your private information is when using a public wifi hotspot? If so, you’re not alone. A recent study conducted by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) found that 79% of survey respondents were worried about public wifi’s link to identity theft. More specifically, about 49% of these respondents were “concerned” about the security of their information when using public wifi hotspots and 15% were “very concerned.”
So, should we be worried about our security when using public wifi hotspots? The answer is yes, of course!
The availability of public wifi has increased over the recent years and as a result, consumers have taken advantage of its convenience. Consumers can surft the net, make online purchases, or even pay bills while they are at a local coffee shop, traveling at the airport, or staying at a hotel. However, many consumers do not understand the insecurity of these public wifi hotspots and how easy it is for a thief to access your information. According to the ITRC, hacking into your personal information at a public wifi hotspot can easily be done by anyone with a regular laptop and the right software.
But what information can thieves access? The ITRC reports that 24% of survey respondents have used their credit card to make a purchase and 57% have logged into classified work pages from public wifi hotspots. Not only that, but thieves can access any of your private information that is not securely encrypted. So, in order to protect yourself when using public wifi hotspots, here are some tips recommended by the ITRC:
- Double-check the network. Hackers will use false names to make you believe you are using a certain network when you are actually using their hotspot.
- Make sure you are using secure websites with an https://, especially if you are giving out personal information.
- Don’t allow your computer to share information. Switch these settings to “off” when using a public hotspot.
- If you are not using wireless, turn it off.
- Always update your software when updates are available.
- Use a firewall when you log into a public wifi. For more specific directions on using a firewall, visit the original article “The Truth About Wifi” and scroll down to the “Public Wifi Security Tips,” tip number 5.
Remember to always be on the defense when using any public wifi hotspot. Accessing confidential work pages or submitting private information is not safe when using public wifi and can increase your risk of identity theft. By taking necessary precautions and following the tips provided, you will greatly decrease your chance of falling prey to identity theft!
Visit privatewifi.com for the orignal article and full survey results from the ITRC study.