Secure your Smartphone, don’t get caught in the Open WiFi Web
In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing environment being Mobile is an absolute essential, but how many of us are trading Security for Expedience? I admit it is very difficult to keep up with the latest trends in security and protecting your data can seem like a full-time job, that being said ignoring the risk can sometimes come with devastating consequences. The vast majority of us use mobile devices and to keep the cost of an ever-increasing Data Plan from charging us an arm and a leg we will often search out Mobile Hotspot or Open WiFi Hotspots. Enter the risk factor, while running on data there are certain safeguards in place to prevent snooping, all be it not impossible to track or snoop on, but far less likely than an Open WiFi Hotspot.
What is an Open WiFi Hotspot?
It is what it sounds like Open, to any individual with direct access granted by range or service provider and a WiFi-enabled device, these Open WiFi Hotspots can be found in most urban areas and present the greatest risk to our Data. You might say that’s great why does it matter? If you are one of the many that use this wonderful advance and have not been spiked by some form of Identity Theft or received warnings someone has made an attempt to access one of your online accounts then you have been lucky, but luck doesn’t last. Keep in mind these generally notice that your account has already been compromised or at the very least someone has accumulated enough information about you to start making attempts at access.
The Danger of the Open Web
Lurking in the dark corners of Open WiFi hotspots the proverbial spider who has extended its web to capture all your or anyone else’s traffic for the specific purpose of not only identifying you, and your mobile device, but also capturing passwords, emails, even financial information such as credit cards, account numbers, and anything else you might unwittingly be sending out. Those unaware are almost certain to make mistakes, costly mistakes, as it takes very little these days to gain access.
You are Being Watched!
Firstly always assume you are being watched, this might sound paranoid but on the Open Web every byte of data sent or received can be captured, snooped on, or monitored. In order to mitigate that risk limit the use of Open WiFi for the searching of goods and services, streaming music/movies, or light correspondence on social media, by light I mean do not include personal information such as your address, phone number, or any other sensitive information. If you wouldn’t want everyone in the room to hear you yell your Phone Number or Address then don’t send it to an Open WiFi connection.
Secondly, and I cannot stress this enough be extremely careful of Honeypots, What is a Honeypot? Glad you asked, in short, an attacker sets up an Open WiFi broadcast name identical but slightly different than the one you are used to connecting to. For example, Starbucks WiFi which you always connect to and Star Bucks WiFi or simply Starbucks, though they make look the same they are CERTAINLY NOT the same thing. Once connected every single nibble and byte transferred is recorded by the attacker, this means all websites you visit all passwords, usernames and more than likely phishing websites, designed to look identical to facebook, google, Instagram, anything. The purpose of which you just wittingly gave your password and email account, username, log in to unscrupulous individuals intent on stealing your account, identity, spamming you, or whatever they can get.
Thirdly, Apps, this may be one of the most common misconceptions signed into an App already think your safe? Think again! Just because you previously signed into an App doesn’t make it safe, not even if the App is running some form of security. Apps are nothing more than mobile-ready websites, very little differentiates the two and your data is still at risk.
Securing your Devices
Now we have talked about the risk and how to mitigate it, let’s talk about what you can do proactively to further Secure your information and data. There are numerous means to secure you while using an Open WiFi or an unsecured connection, the main one is a VPN – Many VPN’s offer free or trial versions of the software, as well as, paid versions of the software, which include more servers to host your connections. In short, a VPN encrypts your communication so it cannot be viewed by anyone that may be snooping on your connection, it also protects your IP address so no one can locate your device and where you currently are geographical.
Another is to locate a Firewall App, the drawbacks to these are they don’t prevent interception/snooping of traffic on your devices, they simply mitigate outgoing/incoming traffic that you specify. They can be far more cumbersome, as well as difficult to install, as not all are as simple as Downloading and Installing. Some require you to Root your Phone which is an advanced task not easy for most and others don’t provide enough protection. However when looking to prevent outgoing traffic on Data Plans these are amazingly useful, allowing you to pick what Apps you wish to allow incoming/outgoing transfer on which kind of service Data or WiFi.
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