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The Dangers of Connecting to Unsecured Wi-Fi & End User Security Tips

Posted on October 03, 2017
  
Man using laptop and cell phone

At some point in time, we've all come across unsecure Wi-Fi networks. Whether it's been in a coffee shop, airport, hotel, etc., we are commonly faced with the option to join types of networks that don't require a password. But what many users don't know is that by joining an unsecure network, you are giving other users the ability to access all data that doesn't have the sharing setting turned off.

How does this happen?

Hackers can find out all types of personal data including passwords from emails, social media accounts, and even bank information. An article from Above The Law shares how hackers can get this information through different apps that are easily downloadable. These apps are used to capture and organize information that is currently being used by another device connected to the network.

For example, if someone is online shopping while connected to unsecure Wi-Fi, the bank information entered to complete the purchase can been easily accessed by the hacker, giving them the ability to save the credentials.   

Connecting to free Wi-Fi is tempting and can't always be avoided. It is important to save online shopping, working on private documents, and accessing bank information for at home. USA Today shares that  choosing to pay for secure Wi-Fi is your best option. If connected to a public network, experts say that you should use a Virtual Private Network to increase your security. This will gaurentee that your data is always encrypted for safety from hackers.

End User Security Tips

What can you do to make sure you're safe from unsecure networks? Lifehacker.com shares a few great tips on the best ways to keep your internet connection safe and secure. Here's what we found:

  • 1. Turn Off Sharing – It's okay to keep your sharing setting turned on when using private Wi-Fi, but it is important to turn it off when connected to a public network.

  • 2. Enable Your Firewall – Most computers have basic firewall settings that can be found in the security settings. Keeping these settings turned on is just another way to keep unwanted users from accessing information from your computer.

  • 3. Use HTTPS and SSL Whenever Possible – HTTP website connections can give hackers an easier way to track the website users. By using an HTTPS website or enabling Security Sockets Layer (SSL), this will encrypt the information exchanged on the website and keep it private from hackers. You'll know a website is HTTPS if the URL looks like this:
    Example of HTTPS URL
  • 4. Consider a Virtual Private Network – Because SSL is not always an option, using a VPN (virtual private network) can be an alternate plan to stay secure. Even though you’re on a public network, a VPN provides the security of a private one.

  • 5. Turn Wi-Fi Off When You Aren’t Using It – When you don’t need to use the internet, an easy way to maintain security is to turn off your Wi-Fi.

Next time you think about connecting to unsecure Wi-Fi, you may want to think again. Don't connect unless you think it's necessary and if you do, make sure to check your sharing settings first!

As a manged services provider, our clients are oftentimes shocked to learn that it's their employees who pose the biggest IT security threat to their business. Whether it's having data stolen as a result of connecting to an unsecured network or clicking a link in a phishing email, end users are usually the easiest door to an organization's critical data. As a result, we've implemented end user security training and a host of other IT security tools to keep their information safe. Contact us today if you'd like to learn more!

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