MANILA, OCTOBER 14, 2013 (PHILSTAR) In a recent survey, 70 percent of tablet owners and 53 percent of smartphone/mobile phone owners said they used public Wi-Fi hotspots.

However, because data sent through public Wi-Fi can easily be intercepted, many users of mobile devices and laptops are risking the security of their personal information, digital identity, and money.

And if a device or computer is not protected by an effective security and anti-malware product, the risks are even greater.

With coffee shops, hotels, shopping malls, airports and many other locations offering their customers free access to public Wi-Fi, it’s a convenient way to check your e-mails, catch up on social networking or surf the Web when you are out and about.

But cybercriminals will often spy on public Wi-Fi networks and intercept data transferred across the link. By doing so, the criminal can access users’ banking credentials, account passwords and other valuable information.

Here are some useful tips from Kaspersky Lab’s team of Internet security experts:

• Be aware. Public Wi-Fi is inherently insecure, so be cautious.

• Remember any device could be at risk. Laptops, smartphones and tablets are all susceptible to wireless security risks.

• Treat all Wi-Fi links with suspicion. Don’t just assume that the Wi-Fi link is legitimate. It could be a bogus link that has been set up by a cybercriminal that is trying to capture valuable, personal information from unsuspecting users. Question everything — and don’t connect to an unknown or unrecognized wireless access point.

• Try to verify the legitimacy of a wireless connection. Some bogus links — that have been set up by malicious users — will have a connection name that’s deliberately similar to the coffee shop, hotel or venue that’s offering free Wi-Fi. If you can speak to an employee at the location that’s providing the public Wi-Fi connection, ask for information about their legitimate Wi-Fi access point such as the connection’s name and IP address.

• Use a VPN (virtual private network). By using a VPN when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, you will effectively be using a “private tunnel” that encrypts all of your data that pass through the network. This can help prevent cybercriminals — that are lurking on the network — from intercepting your data.

• Avoid using specific types of websites. It’s a good idea to avoid logging into websites where there’s a chance that cybercriminals could capture your identity, passwords or personal information — such as social networking sites, online banking services or websites that store your credit card information.

• Consider using your mobile phone. If you need to access websites that store or require the input of any sensitive information — including social networking, online shopping and online banking sites — it may be worthwhile accessing these via your mobile phone network, instead of the public Wi-Fi connection.

• Protect your device against cyber attacks. Make sure all of your devices are protected by a rigorous anti-malware and security solution — and ensure that it’s updated as regularly as possible.


IT Security Dangers of Public Wifi Posted by Quinn Devery

You know you shouldn't, but in that moment of weakness when your cellular signal is a measly one bar or your Wi-Fi-only tablet is in dire need of some content, you do it.

Throwing caution to the wind, you log onto unsecured public Wi-Fi. "I'll be OK," you think. "Nobody will hack my information."

As you leave the conference room, coffee shop or retail outlet, you chalk up your breach free Wi-Fi experience as a win and push the admonitions of your paranoid friends out of mind.

Take solace in the fact that you are not alone.

I've done this, IT security experts have done this, and you probably have, too.

A staggering 85 percent of us have logged onto a public Wi-Fi hotspot without checking what they were logging onto, and the other 15 percent probably don't even know how to use a computer.

The risks are real, and has put together a pretty cool infographic to show you how you can protect yourself.


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