Café’s regularly advertise the fact that they have free WiFi– just buy a coffe and get the password. Easy as! And for those of us who like to work from cafe’s or public areas like libraries, or shopping centres, it’s very tempting to take advantage of the advertised free WiFi. However, in terms of security, we all need to be aware of the possible dangers and what we can do to prevent them. It is a lot easier than you think for people to steal your personal information simply by looking over your shoulder as you type in your passwords to various sites. If you know anyone who has had their accounts hacked (and unfortunately I do), you’ll know how upsetting and painful this can be. So before you jump on that public WiFi, get to know some of the security risks before you sign on.

In the article Using Public Wireless Networks, the Australian Government Initiative, “Stay Smart Online” offers some top tips on how to manage your security whilst you’re out and about.

Be careful about which hotspots you use: The article talks about being cautious using networks set up by people you don’t know or trust. Criminals often set-up free hotspots to steal your information.
Install and use anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software: It’s imperative to keep this software up-to-date.
Make sure no-one is watching you: Just by looking over your shoulder, people can steal your information.
If you can’t connect securely using a VPN, then consider avoiding online banking or shopping: and refrain from visiting sites where you need passwords.
Encrypt sensitive information: If you keep personal or financial information on your computer, you should consider encrypting or protecting these files.
Disable wireless networking when you are not using it: Whenever you’re connected to the internet, hackers can attempt to steal your information.
Hackers are sophisticated and ZoneAlarm’s infographic below outlines some of the tactics that they will use to gain your personal details.

What about you – can you suggest any other security measures?

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User Beware : Read This Before Using Free Public Wifi

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