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Hands Off!: How to Protect Your Personal Information in Wi-Fi Hotspots

There’s something comforting in enjoying a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop while browsing through your e-mail or Facebook account on your phone, but you might not take comfort in knowing how much of your personal information is being exposed when you connect to Wi-Fi hotspots.

Wireless Internet access has been made possible through the use of Wi-Fi hotspots, which are area-specific access points that enable smartphones, tablets, and laptop devices to tap the World Wide Web through a local wireless network. This makes it possible for you to read your e-mails while waiting for your flight on an airport or while waiting for your next stop on the train station. Wi-Fi hotspots are created through the use of routers that serve as gateways for devices to connect to the Internet, and it has been a very popular means of connecting to the Internet in public places such as malls, libraries, restaurants, and shops without the hassle of cables. However, no matter how promising Wi-Fi hotspots look, there’s always the danger of exposing personal data to the public, because Wi-Fi security has yet to employ stringent measures to ward off attacks from scammers and hackers. Reports that users have lost their personal information over Wi-Fi connections have been growing steadily, and this brings to light the growing concern over the means by which cyber criminals can access personal data without authorization. Although most smartphone and tablet devices are armed with antivirus programs to block viruses and external threats, it’s still good to know how to actively protect your data the next time you connect to Wi-Fi hotspots. Team has a few suggestions for all.

Hacking and Scamming: How do they do it?

Because Wi-Fi hotspots are created through the use of routers, hackers and scammers can create their own fake Wi-Fi hotspots to lure in users who are looking for an Internet connection. Once the unsuspecting user connects his smartphone to the fake Wi-Fi hotspot, this will give the hackers instant access to all of the user’s personal information, such as browsing information and even something as serious as credit card and banking information. The hacker can access this information with ease and use it later for his personal gain, and all this is being done without the knowledge of the poor user.

Protecting Your Information from Prying Eyes

Knowing that hackers can easily access your data when you, on the off chance, connect to one of their fake hotspots brings you the next question – how can you protect yourself from these unwarranted attacks? While there’s no actual way to check whether the hotspot that you’re connecting to is a legitimate or a fake one, there are some steps that you can take to gear up your security from hackers and scammers. Some service providers offer services such as VeriSign keys that would help their users ensure that their financial and banking information are secured. The authenticity of websites should also be done when surfing the Internet. All these measures, however, do not offer fool-proof security measures on Wi-Fi hotspots as these are just light security measures.

One of the things that you can do to actively protect your devices and your information from hackers and scammer is to make sure that the network is employed with Wi-Fi protected protocols. Disabling the Wi-Fi connectivity of your smartphone and tablet devices when it is not in use is also a good step in protecting your information as this will limit the chances that hackers and scammers will be looking into your information without permission. Using corporate e-mail services such as Microsoft Exchange servers and Lotus Notes is a safer way of checking your e-mails as compared to directly using the web browser. You can also activate secure sockets layer (SSL) protection on your browser to access your e-mail accounts. Check out the websites for the “https” attachment before the URL, as this will tell you that the website is encrypted and secured. Data encryption is one effective security measure in protecting personal information, as this can make it extremely difficult for prying eyes to look into your personal data.

Wi-Fi zones are a promising technology in developing the mobility of computing devices and increasing connectivity. But they still have a long way to go before effective and strong security measures are developed that can ward off attacks from cyber criminals. Until then, protecting one’s information and personal data should come from the user. If something goes the unwanted way, companies and Best Buy’s Retail Card are there to get you out of this mess.