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Free Wi-Fi Can Come at a Terrible Cost

Advice on how to protect yourself when using Wi-Fi from the blog Tex on Tech.

About Tex on Tech: I currently work for Vicarious Productions Inc. located in Palatine, and I am the head of technology for that company. I have vast technical expertise on all things computer related. I am often refered to as the Technology Whisperer. If I don't know the immediate answer to a question i will find the correct answer for you. 

Have you ever been to your favorite public venue whether it’s a coffee shop or hangout and used their free Wi-Fi? If so you have left yourself open to a MITM attack.

What is an MITM attack? MITM stands for 'man in the middle'. This is a very popular and easy way for people to hack into your online accounts. Through various software and techniques hackers are able to spoof the Wi-Fi connection you use in public and reroute all of your information through their computers. In fact the hacker doesn’t even need a computer to do this type of attack, there are devices available online that can do this that fit in a pocket or soda can.

The hacker can even run specialized software on an old smartphone that can accomplish the same task. After this is done they are able to analyze the data and extract your information and browse through your personal files on your computer or internet device. Sometimes, they clone a login page to a popular website and when you login-boom, they have your information and you are forwarded to the actual website so that you will not be any the wiser. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Public free internet access is nice because it is free but as we all know nothing is truly free, and with free Wi-Fi you sacrifice security of your personal information. 

There are ways to protect yourself from prying eyes and I will highlight a few.

  1. Don’t use public WI-FI
  2. Make sure that if you use public Wi-Fi you do not visit any sites that require you to login such as Facebook or banking.
  3. If using a windows pc when you connect make sure to select public when it ask you what type of network.
  4. Set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) Do an internet search or contact a trained technician for more information on this topic.
  5. Never use the same login and passwords for websites. (there is free software available on the internet that will store your passwords for you and even generate more secure passwords)

So next time you go to use that free WI-FI, think of the information you access or share while connected.

If you would like more information on how to surf the net safer you can e-mail Shawn@vicariousproductions.com

website March 01, 2013 at 09:13 AM
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