Almost everywhere we go, from coffee shops, restaurant, malls and even buses and airplanes, we enjoy the benefit of being able to go online and connect to the Internet. Thanks to the power of WiFi. Most of this WiFi service is being offered for free as part of the additional services being given by different establishments to their customers. If ever there is a charge, like in some hotels, the rate is relatively affordable and it sometimes come wit discounts and coupons or they even offer promos like unlimited surfing for a week, additional hour of surfing after meeting a minimum number of surfing hours and more. Imagine you can connect to Facebook, tweet in Twitter, check your email, shop for shoes and bags on sale, and many more even when mobile.
But as much as we enjoy the convenience and benefits of being online while mobile, it also poses great security risks too. IT experts are saying that cyber crooks are targeting mobile OS, as they are easier to attack. There are even some browser extensions available that can be use to intercept unencrypted cookies from websites on any WiFi network, thereby stealing loin credentials for site such as Facebook, email and more.
I have friends sharing stories of their Facebook logon credentials being stolen, or credit card accounts being hacked ad even their yahoo account details being intercepted. So if you believe that this will not happen to you, well better think again.
To protect you from the different security risks that comes when using mobile devices on WiFi networks, here are a few tips:
- Use strong passwords. Don’t use common passwords like your name, your birthday and other significant dates, your email address and the like which can be easily guessed by the cyber criminals. Use passwords that are made up of a combination of upper case and lower case letters, characters, numbers, and should be at least 8 characters long. Most sites has a way to check the strength of password entered when creating an account so change the password if the system will suggest that it is a weak password. Try to change your password also at least once every 3-6 months.
- Avoid unencrypted public wireless networks. When scanning for available wireless networks, avoid unencrypted public WiFi network that does not require authentication and password for access as it poses greater security risk. Encrypted wireless network on the other hand offers more security as it uses either WEP (wired equivalent privacy) or WPA (WiFi protected access) for security.
- Use https URLs. Check the URL of the site and make sure that it uses https when entering sensitive and important data like bank details, credit card accounts and the like to make sure that all data transferred will be encrypted via SSL (Secure Socket Layer).
- Turn off Autofill and Cookies. This feature automatically enters username and password details and is not recommended especially for mobile devices. It poses a big security risk when your mobile device got stolen or lost, as the finder of your device will have easy access to the login details for all your accounts.
- Always keep your software and mobile OS up to date. Developers of different software, apps and OS release fixes, patches and updates to address different security vulnerabilities that is why it is important that your gadget have the latest software update to protect it from any security breeches and attacks.
It is good that technology is available that allows us to do different online activities even when we are on the go. But we should always bear in mind that cyber criminals are taking these loopholes to initiate their crooked activities. So it is important that we know how to secure our mobile device when accessing wireless networks and the tips mentioned above would be a big help in achieving that.