According to a recent survey, as many as 65% of the people filing their taxes online are actually doing it from public, open, wifi connections.
Seriously, just stop it already!
Look, I travel a lot. I understand the need, and the convenience, of soaking up some bandwidth at the airport, Starbucks, hotel, whatever. Just don’t ever get too comfortable while you’re doing that. The fact of the matter is, anyone else who happens to be on that network can very easily be grabbing the data being communicated between your computer and the internet! Seriously, it’s not even that hard to do. I work with some people who can demonstrate it to you, it takes no time and effort at all.
So, if you are going to be using a public wifi spot, a couple of tips, OK?
- Leave the taxes and online banking for home, or some more secure connection.
- Same goes for any shopping or anytime you are entering your credit card information. Just don’t.
- Only send/receive email through an encrypted connection.
- Login to the website using the https: address or,
- Make sure your email client is setup to login with encryption turned on.
- Only login to social networks using the “https”, secure connection.
- Think about turning on two-factor authentication for any and all networks.
- Use some sort of VPN. Personally, I use a remote connection to my computer at home, which limits the amount of traffic being sent over the public network. Instead of logging into Facebook, Twitter, or my WordPress backend over the public network, I’m simply watching the screen of my home PC as it logs into those services on my home network.
In short, if you are using a wifi network in a public place, I want you to look around at the other people who are doing the same thing. Go ahead, get a good look.
How many of them would you trust to simply hand over your laptop to with all of your accounts logged in and your credit card or banking information available as well?
If you’re not being careful with what you are doing over that network connection, you could be doing something very similar. Stop and think about what information is being transmitted by your connection, and act accordingly.
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