Protecting Your Identity on Wireless Internet Networks

Protecting Your Identity on Wireless Internet Networks

Wi-Fi is a wonderful thing! How many times have you picked up free wireless internet in a coffee shop, airport or restaurant? It’s easy, convenient, saves personal wireless mobile phone data, and is fast. But it’s not perfect. In fact, wireless internet connections can be dangerous.

“Unsecured” network connections are open to hackers who can try to hijack your session. In doing so, they can steal your personal information including private documents, contacts, photos, login info and more. These hackers can use the information they get to impersonate you, compromise your identity, and potentially scam your friends and family.

Hackers can also test your username and password to try to gain access to other sites, like your online banking or savings accounts, credit card accounts, etc. Having access to that kind of information could make it easy for hackers to cause serious damage to your credit report and score. 

Here are some ways to protect yourself from identity theft when using public Wi-Fi:

·         Secure Sites. Only login to websites that you know are fully encrypted.  To determine if a website is encrypted or not, look for “https” at the beginning of the web address (the “s” stands for secure). Note that some websites only use encryption on their sign-in page, but if any part of your session isn’t encrypted, your entire account could be vulnerable.  For this reason, it’s important to look for https on every page you visit, not just when you sign in.
·         Wi-Fi Encryption. Even if you’re on an encrypted network, not all are 100% safe. Always take precaution when on a public network. If you must use Wi-Fi often, install free browser add-ons such as Force-TLS or HTTPS-Everywhere. These are free browser extensions that compel the browser to use encryption on popular websites that may default and/or link to unencrypted pages.
·         Password Usage. Remember not to use the same password on different websites. If a hacker is able to get access to your login info for one site, and you use the same login info for multiple sites, the hacker could get access to any/all of your accounts.  Manage your passwords carefully, and be sure to use different passwords for different sites.
·         Logging Out. Especially when you’re accessing a public computer, be sure to log out of your accounts when you’re done with them. All too often, users can inadvertently leave a sensitive web page open, which is an open invitation for hackers.
·         Fraudulent Site Alerts. Pay attention to warnings from your web browser about fraudulent websites. Some browsers and antivirus software will let you know when you’re visiting a suspicious site.
·         Software Updates. Be sure to have an up-to-date version of your antivirus software, and always try to use the latest browser versions (as these generally offer the best and latest security provisions).

Identity theft is a widespread and growing issue. A single instance of identity theft can cost you thousands of dollars to fix, not to mention countless hours of your precious time to manage. That said, when surfing the web – especially on public Wi-Fi networks – always take the right (and smart) precautions to safeguard your computer and personal information.