If you’re like most people, not only do you have your office at work, and your office at home, but you have an office at your local coffee shop. Who could blame you? It’s always fun to get in a little people watching in between putting together that report for your manager. However, what you may not realize is that logging onto any public network anywhere is like showing up to the wild wild west of computers. In fact, it can be so dangerous as far as your personal information that the Federal Trade Commission believes you should be aware of the following things…
1. Any time you share anything via the internet or a wireless network, that information should be encrypted in order to protect yourself from vulnerability. Encryption is essentially a code that your data is turned into while being sent and then decoded at the other end. Look for an “s” at the end of every website’s “http” so that you know that the website is secure and sending your information only through an encrypted packet if you are on public WiFi.
2. Mobile apps do not share the same encryption standards as sites do, and thus a mobile app may not be encrypted properly. Make sure that if you are sending very vulnerable information via a mobile app that you are not on public WiFi or just go to the website version of the app so that you can see if there is an “s” in the website.
3. Not all WiFi hotspots are secure, some of them do not encrypt the data at all and thus could be just as vulnerable as a public network. It goes without saying that if there is no password then the network is not secure, but even with a password, you might not be entirely safe. If you are going to use a WiFi hotspot, it’s worth checking to see if it’s safe, like this company for example that secures the WiFi.
In this day and age, you are never quite certain of how protected your data is. Even the tips provided above are just a basic guide on protecting your information, and can still be circumvented with the right tools. There are hacking tools available for free to the public for download that could make anyone a threat.
Next time you’re working at your coffee shop office, just keep in mind what websites you are visiting and what sort of information you are transmitting, because you just never know!