17:19 11 July 2017
Did you know that using free, public WiFi networks poses a huge risk to your personal privacy? If you’re not careful, you may be targeted by marketing companies or hackers who can steal your password and your credit card information.
Justin Warren, managing director of IT consulting firm PivotNine, said that when connecting to a public WiFi, you are paying for it one way or another. He added: "Do marketing companies collect information about you as you browse? Absolutely. Every chance they get. They convince themselves that they're doing it to 'make the experience better,' but there's no such thing as a free lunch.
Dr. Suelette Dreyfus, a lecturer at the University of Melbourne's School of Computing and Information Systems agrees saying: "Public WiFi networks at cafes and public spots can be a risk because they may not require authentication to establish a network connection. An intruder may be able to slip in between your laptop and the network. If you are file sharing on a network, perhaps he inserts a malicious piece of software. Or maybe he just eavesdrops, slurping up your credit card or personal information sent over an unencrypted connection."
For public wifi safety, it is important that you avoid all password-free WiFi networks. "Unsecured public WiFi is the kind you can log into without a password. Anything sent over this network can be seen by others on the network because the traffic isn't encrypted by the WiFi connection itself; you need to add encryption on top of it. If it's a secured WiFi network—one that needs a password to connect—then it's going to be using some form of encryption on the WiFi itself, which provides some protection," Warren says.
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