Is using public wi-fi safe when travelling?
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Free wi-fi is no exception to this adage. Security company Avast tested this theory by setting up a number of free fake Wi-Fi hotspots to see how many people would take the bait. They caught a lot of fish.” – Jen A Miller, CIO Magazine, 29 July, 2016.
On one day Avast set up a number of free, but fake, wi-fi hot spots during a conference in Cleveland, USA. During the day, more than 1,200 people logged into the fake hot spots. Of those logging in, 68.3% exposed their identities when they connected and 44.5% checked their emails or chatted via messenger apps.
Not much has changed since 2016 when it comes to people using free wi-fi.
When travelling the temptation to access free public wi-fi is often difficult to resist. Hackers will often set up hotspots which are designed to appear as though they are provided by businesses or organisations.
So while a hotspot may look legitimate, you need to be vigilant. Here are eight tips to help you protect your information when using public wi-fi while travelling. I do not want to get technical so while there are technical terms in the article, I have attempted to explain them in plain language.
Tip 1: Protect Your Passwords
Your password gives instant access to your information such as your email, social media or online banking. It is therefore important to ensure that you put effort into selecting and protecting your passwords.
Do not use basic passwords. Examples of basic passwords include:
- Consecutive keyboard combinations such as qwerty, asdfg or zxcvb.
- Words that appear in the dictionary, common misspellings of those words or spelling those words backwards
- Common slang terms
Research by password manager, Keeper using an external, public data source examined about one million passwords from data breaches that happened. The results of that research included:
- Nearly 17% of people are using the password “123456” to safeguard their accounts
- The list of most-frequently used passwords has changed little over the past few years.
- Four of the top 10 passwords and seven of the top 15, are six characters or shorter.
Do not reuse passwords on more than one account. If you use the same password and one of your accounts is compromised, you will have given access to your other accounts to the cyber-criminals.
Use passwords of more than eight characters that have a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols.
Check the strength of your password. Some websites you log into will analyse the strength of your password. If it is not a strong password, change it.