Today, many WiFi networks offer free or public access. Many people use these kinds of networks while traveling as a means of conveniently accessing the internet without taxing their own device data. Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals often exploit these public networks seeking to intrude upon your private browsing online. Here are several risks you may encounter when utilizing these public WiFi networks: Packet-Sniffing: As the Wi-Fi connection is shared in a public network, your risk of becoming a victim is considerable. Shared connections make your data available for viewing and tracking online. Usernames and passwords can be retrieved when you login using these public networks. Once your credentials are captured, it’s only a matter of time before your personal accounts are accessed and your financial life and personal life (via social media) online can be compromised. Packet-Sniffing is the process by which an attacker accesses browsing history, website cookies and even encrypted data to suss out your personal details and credentials while on the same public network. Middle-Man Attacks: When a user on a public network communicates online and an attacker intercepts those communications, that is called a middle-man attack. The owner of a Wi-Fi hotspot, implements an attack that offers “bait” in the form of phoney websites representing companies like Twiiter or Amazon. The user attempts to login using their account credentials and unknowingly gives the hacker access to their detail. The damage may come in the form of a hacked social media account or even a personal bank account being accessed by a third-party. Malicious Wi-Fi Hotspots: It is common for people frequenting an establishment like Starbuck’s, which offers free Wi-Fi to its customers, to assume they know which Wi-Fi network their devices detect are the official networks for that establishment. A nefarious attacker could set up a personal Wi-Fi hotspot that looks similar to the one provided by the establishment in question and offer free access. When you login and begin to browse, your movements are tracked and reviewed for possible retrieval of sensitive information in an effort to gain access to personal accounts and details. Remember to check with the establishment in question and confirm which network is their network, and also remember that checking personal accounts using any public network, even if it is the one provided by the establishment, is risky business. If you have questions about maintaining network security or computer support for your business, contact the industry leaders at dotQ4 in Mokena, just outside of Chicago. You can reach us at 708 261 1844.