Times are changing, and most of our work, personal conversations, news information, and activities are all online by using wifi. There is no easy way to avert from using technology. Every day every one of us logs into some website. We sometimes use passwords to secure any personal information placed on those websites to protect our private data. We put our trust in these websites and their firewalls. We believe they will keep our data secure from cybercriminals. However, did you know that these cybercriminals create fake public wifi networks to steal people's data? This is referred to as the evil "twin hack."
How Wifi Hacking Happens
Imagine sitting in a coffee shop that does not offer public wifi unless you buy a coffee. Perhaps you don’t want to pay for a $6 latte. So, you go on your phone to check your bank account status. But to do that, you need wifi. You notice a 'free wifi' pops up on your phone, ready and available to use. How convenient! You click on this new open wifi source. But, you have just opened the door to allowing potential cyber hackers to obtain your banking information and more.
What Is Encryption and How Can It Assist Me?
Encryption is a safe method to use to help prevent your public information from being released. It can help protect any message you send, gather, and store on your computer, phone, iPad, tablet - you name it. Encryption mixes up any personal information that belongs to you so that only you can read it because you have the password to unlock this data. Keep in mind that an encrypted online site only protects the information you place on the site. But if you use a secure wifi network, all of the information you look up or type will be protected by encryption. The best way to tell if a site is encrypted is to look for "http"' or "https" at the beginning of a website. The "s" stands for secure. If the website you are using does not have an "s" following "http" - your information is at risk. Note that some websites sometimes have the "s" on their homepage, and some do not.
If you want to use a phone to check your online banking, for instance, beware. You cannot check if the website you are using has an "s'" at the end of the website's address. This issue is why you must connect to secure wifi (3G or 4G) if you do anything that revolves around sensitive data because hackers can steal that information from you.
Be Careful of Wifi Hotspots.
Although hotspots are a convenient way to receive wifi, they are not always the best choice because most hotspots do not encrypt the information you send out or take in. If any wifi connection does not require a password, your data is most likely not safe. Leaving your personal information such as text messages, emails, passwords to financial accounts, social media is all up for anyone to use that has the time to hijack your data.
The crazy thing is that there are several websites that actually TEACH criminals how to steal people's data, meaning almost anyone at a coffee shop, restaurant, or store could steal from you if they are inclined towards criminal activity.
The Most Effective Ways to Protect Yourself From Hackers
- Get rid of your preferred network list, also known as PNL. Your select network list are wifi networks that your devices already trust. If you go to a coffee shop often and connect to their wifi network each time, your devices will automatically join them. Hackers will create fake wifi names that copy well-known wifi names such as 'Starbucks wifi'. If you keep your appliances in public mode, your phone could mistakenly join these counterfeit networks. Your hackers could perform phishing scams and track what sites you use.
- If you own any Windows devices, you easily can get rid of your preferred networks. If you want to do this, click on manage known networks. From there, you should see a button that says forget. This action will ensure that your Windows devices do not connect to any Wifi networks without your permission.
- Create a strong password. Strong passwords are usually 8-12 characters long, containing numbers, letters, exclamation marks, money signs, and other special characters. Sometimes strong passwords can be hard to remember. Please write down your password and place it in a safe spot in your home.
- Install antivirus software. If your computer does not already do monthly security updates, it is a great idea to invest in antivirus software. But be careful when you are searching for an antivirus software package. Unfortunately, scammers lurk in this arena too. Go with a reputable company.
- Disable your Bluetooth when you are not using it. By keeping your Bluetooth on, you are allowing potential hackers to gain access to your devices.
- Do not download any apps that do not have a lot of reviews. Hackers even create apps to scam you.
- If you are utilizing a public computer or any available device, do not click on "save my information next time." Even if you use that public computer often, you are allowing potential hackers to obtain your information.
- Keep away from open wifi. If you believe a site you are on is not encrypted, a scammer could be watching you.
- Update software so that you can receive warnings if any suspicious activity has been occurring on your accounts.
- Utilize an advertisement blocker; this will help ensure that no virus can take over your computer system.
- Know the different types of wifi network encryptions: WEP and WPA are good, but WPA2 is the safest and most secure.
- Always log out of accounts. If you stay logged in, this will give hackers more straightforward access to your records.
- If you believe that your accounts have undergone a hacker, make sure to check your financial statements. Most hackers will go straight to your bank account.
- Tell your friends and family you have undergone a hack. Hackers will sometimes send emails through your account to your friends and family. Please give them a heads up so they can prevent a hacker from getting their information.
- Steer clear from using the same passwords for all of your accounts. If a hacker gets one password to an account, they may try it for others.
- If you believe you have undergone a hack, know that hacking is a crime and needs to be handled by the FBI. Use this phone number to contact them: (763) 569-8000.
For any reason, if you are considering providing your login credentials to someone, you might consider getting the full picture on that person first. Trust? Of course, but verify too. When it comes to your personal and financial data, it is just a smart thing to do.
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