Dangers of Free Public Wi-Fi

by Christina DesMarais for Techlicious

Dangers of Free Public Wi-Fi

Whether it’s at the airport, a coffee shop or hotel room, chances are there’s access to free Wi-Fi. According to recent studies by the Internet security company Norton, 44 percent of us jump onto these free networks to check email, 42 percent post updates to Facebook and other social networking sites and 16 percent access our bank accounts.

The issue with these free Wi-Fi hotspots is that anyone on the network can see the data your computer or mobile device sends across the Internet, whether that’s a request to see a news article on Techlicious or your Facebook News Stream, if you don’t have a secure HTTPS connection. (You can easily see if you have a secure connection by checking your browser’s address bar). This issue got a lot of attention last year when many Facebook and other accounts were hijacked on public networks with a simple Firefox browser add-on called Firesheep. Even if you do have an HTTPS connection, people can see where you’re going. (See more about browsing the Web anonymously.)

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This excerpt appears with the permission of Techlicious.

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