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The dangers of free Wi-Fi

Researchers have discovered a critical security flaw with Wi-Fi
Posted at 10:40 AM, Oct 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-14 11:42:44-04

Ivanhoe Newswire - Fast food restaurants, coffee shops, airports and parks, you name it, you can find free Wi-Fi networks just about anywhere.

But should you really sign on, or could you be signing up for something you didn’t bargain for? More than 72% of people used a public network to check personal email or social networking sites, more than 37% did online banking and 33% purchased products or services with a credit card. But, doing all those things could make you a target for scammers.

According to an AARP survey out of 800 U.S. adults, four in 10 use free Wi-Fi at least once a month, but many of these free hot spots lack strong security protections.

Warning signs of fraudulent networks include things like networks that don’t make you login in with a password, a generic name, being asked to pay to use the connection, or malicious hot spots.

“Now if I’m able to obtain your information I can superimpose my picture on your driver’s license and create a whole new person,” Regine Bonneau, Chief Executive Officer at RB Advisory LLC, said.

If you absolutely have to connect, ask staff for the correct Wi-Fi. Avoid anything that claims, “free Wi-Fi here!” Or “absolutely free internet!”

Also, be careful about what you do while on public Wi-Fi. Don’t do online banking and don’t stay permanently logged into your online accounts. Make sure your computer is running some kind of anti-malware utility and complementary antivirus utility. Turn off file sharing, enable your system’s built-in firewalls and keep internet-connected apps and services to a minimum.

One of the basic rules of security is that if you don’t need something connected to a network, don’t connect it