While shopping this season, how many of us will take a break, grab a snack and check our bank or credit card balance before splurging on that extravagant gift? Most of us routinely enjoy public Wi-Fi offered by coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, airports and other public places, but sometimes these sources are not secure… but how can you be sure?

Fake Public Wi-Fi tricks users into thinking that they have a safe and secure internet connection at locations where they’d expect to find it. Thieves and hackers create fake access points at these public places to steal your information by either:

  1. Redirecting you to a fraudulent site that requests your personal information, or
  2. Observing your online activity while using the connection

Unsecured Wi-Fi is not password protected, it can be shared by a friend or company that may not require a password for convenience sake, but this provides opportunities for thieves. Without a secured Wi-Fi connection, hackers may direct you to the Internet through their own computers and can monitor your activity while using the connection.

Secured & Unsecured Websites– Most websites that handle sensitive information are encrypted—meaning that any information you is coded so that hackers have difficulty reading it. Being able to tell if a site is encrypted is especially important when using public Wi-Fi. Website sites transfer information through HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), however it is not secure—look for HTTPS (“S” stands for “Secure”) in the URL at left of your address bar: (For example: https://www.dwyer.insure) All modern banks and commerce sites that handle sensitive information use HTTPS.

Using Pubic Wi-Fi Safely

  • Do not provide sensitive personal information to access a public Wi-Fi Network unless you are certain that it is secure
  • Avoid accessing your online bank account OR any password protected sites while using public Wi-Fi, unless the site is encrypted—look for the HTTPS.
  • Keep your computer’s antivirus programs and firewall current and activated.
  • Change your passwords frequently.
  • Consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) Modern Windows machines come with a VPN installed, access on a Mac in “Network” > “System Preferences.”

We offer this information to assist you in making decisions that can help mitigate your risk. While we cannot address every possible scenario or guarantee these tips will work for you, our goal is to support your efforts to protect yourself and your family. For more information, please contact us at D.F. Dwyer Insurance, your local Nationwide Agency at 401-846-9629.

Feature Courtesy: D.F. Dwyer Insurance Agency ©2016

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