Public Wi-Fi jeopardizes users’ private information

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Free Wi-Fi doesn’t mean safe Wi-Fi. Using a public network could give cybercriminals access to users’ web browsing activity or personal details.

“Any time users are connected to public networks, whether that’s a coffee shop, airport, train station, or a hotel, they are actually at risk of having that information stolen,” said Iskander Sanchez-Rola, Director of Privacy Innovation for Norton. “Scammers and cybercriminals can access sensitive and personal information ranging from location, bank account, address, credit card, employee network, email, social media… You name it.”

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More than half of Americans report using hotel networks and one in three travelers have used airport Wi-Fi while traveling, according to a recent study at Norton.

There are multiple steps people can take to reduce the risk of falling victim to scammers.  Sanchez-Rola suggests using a virtual private network, or VPN, instead.

“Instead of riding completely exposed on the wide, open internet highway, you can actually use a private tunnel instead,” Sanchez-Rola said.

A VPN allows users to “block” anyone, including hackers, from accessing browsing history, login credentials and personal information.

“You can use it in your phone,”  Sanchez-Rola said. “You can use it in your laptop. You can use it wherever you want, it’s very simple.”

Some other things users can do to protect themselves while using public networks include: using strong and different passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, deleting old information, being aware of phishing attempts and being mindful of what they’re posting on social media.

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