What's scarier than a public toilet seat? Free WiFi for starters
Most of us see using public toilets as something of a risky venture, but we appreciate their convenience all the same. That said, did you know there's another daily convenience even more questionable than a gas station restroom? Yes, we’re talking about free public WiFi networks that at one time or another we’ve all used.
Public WiFi is not safe
In fact, one opinion poll shows that a sizeable percentage of people think public toilet seats are actually less risky than public WiFi. That should tell you something.
Like public toilets, free public WiFi can be incredibly useful. But as these networks tends to be unencrypted - unless they use a proper SSL certificate - they are also quite easy to hack. Hackers never have to work too hard to see which sites you are visiting and what information you are feeding those sites.
Therefore, when using public WiFi, it’s best to just assume that nothing you do is invisible. Assume your email contacts, online purchases, the contact details you’ve just provided for a domain name registration – anything and everything – can and will be accessible by anyone. With minimal effort.
And ask yourself this: is there any way that the convenience of being able to access the Internet from a Starbucks, an airport, or a hotel could possibly outweigh the damage that will come from exposing your financial information to the world, the embarrassment of having your private information made public?
Hopefully, you agree with us: the answer is decidedly no.
Cyber security is your responsibility
The risks associated with free public WiFi networks should be common knowledge by now. However, a recent Symantec report shows that:
- 79 percent of Internet users continue to use public WiFi despite their knowledge of associated security risks
- One in four of those surveyed use an unprotected device to access free Wifi
- 36 percent don’t consider their free WiFi usage to be “risky”, leaving the door open for an attack
Many people still place convenience above security and privacy risk and, are essentially sitting ducks for hackers. The more chances you take with exposing your personal details, the greater the risks you face.
Protecting yourself is, ultimately, your responsibility. And, elsewhere, we’ve covered various, effective ways to limit your exposure to hackers.
But we would also like to share with you a recent infographic from The Best VPN entitled “10 Ways to Keep Yourself Safe on Public WiFi" which offers practical, easy steps you can take to stay safe. Trust us. It’s worth 10 minutes of your time.
Dangers of public WiFi never a question of “if” but “when”
Internet users can be divided into three types: those who have been hacked, those who will be hacked, and those who don’t know that they are currently being hacked. But by just taking a handful of precautions, you can beat the odds and avoid falling into any of those categories.
Make no mistake about it. You will be hacked if you choose to ignore the warnings.
Be safe. Protect yourself by minimizing the risks. Just as you would never underestimate the cleanliness of a public toilet seat, don’t underestimate the risks of using public WiFi.