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Free Wi-Fi Can Come at a Terrible Cost

A look at the potential hazards of using free or public internet access.

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

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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