How Can I Explain The Dangers Of Free Open Wireless Networks To My Less Tech Savvy Friends And Relatives?

Now that we are coming to the end of 2010, more and more people seem to be getting used to the convenience of the internet.

They realize that there is a lot that they can do and that using the internet only helps to make their day easier.

Not too long ago there was still a large segment of society that refused to use the internet for more than the most mundane task.

Now that number is shrinking.

But since people are starting to use the internet more, they are starting to want to use it everywhere.

wireless-now-used-everywhere

They know that many retail stores have a public WiFi station that will allow them to use the internet and they take advantage of it.

But when they use public WiFi stations like this they are often not informed of the dangers that these stations can possess.

It is real easy for someone to take your data from a station and use it for evil purposes.

In this article I will show you some of the things that you need to tell your friends and relatives about, when they use the internet in an open station.

What They Shouldn’t Do

If your friend or relative is a person that like to use the public WiFi that is available at certain stores then here are a couple of things that you should tell them.

First of all, they should not visit any web site that they need to input a password with.

This includes a banking web site, a brokerage site, and even their email.

Most sites use a SSL protection that should protect your data but not all of them do.

SSL will help keep your log in information secure but it can be cracked as well.

Everything that you type in before the SSL session is initiated will still leave your data open to be intercepted and some SSL implementations are not as safe as others.

SSL will help but it is not the cure for everything.

Another thing that you should tell them not to do is to let someone watch what they are doing while you are at the public place.

In other words, if someone that they do not know comes behind them and tries to strike up a conversation then they should stop what they are doing on the computer immediately.

Sure, the person could have nothing but good intentions but they could also be watching the data that you are typing in the screen.

Even while they are talking to you they can be paying attention to the data.

Some people are just that good (or bad as the case may be!).

When it comes to your data on a public WiFi, there are a lot of ways that it can be intercepted.

So you must always be aware of what sites you surf and if you must log in to a sensitive web site make sure that the site is SSL protected.

But even SSL will not protect you at all times.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. Oops – missed this comment at the time Dave – a belated happy xmas and new year to you too!

  2. Now that something, you posted about the WiFi thing just as i was reading this:
    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9202160/Man_used_neighbor_s_Wi_Fi_to_threaten_Vice_President_Biden

    Really makes a person wonder about using wifi,, should make anyone using it run out for everything than can find to secure their home wifi.

    have a Merry Christmas Lee an everyone else.

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