Hotspot cautionary tales

Dunedin City Council customer services agency manager William Robertson uses the free internet...
Dunedin City Council customer services agency manager William Robertson uses the free internet service in the Octagon. Although Wi-Fi hotspots allow users to access the internet free, users should always check it is a secure connection, as Wi-Fi...

You can access the internet in many places these days.

Restaurants, book stores, coffee shops and other businesses offer wireless connections, hoping you'll camp out with your laptop and spend your money.

Not that I recommend this, but you can drive through neighbourhoods and connect to unsecured domestic networks.

You should be careful when using free internet connections, because you don't know if they're secure. Wi-Fi hotspots are breeding grounds for hackers, so be careful.

How to protect yourself. -

• When using a Wi-Fi hotspot, only log in or send personal information to websites that you know are fully encrypted. The entire visit to each site should be encrypted from log in until log out. If you think you're logged in to an encrypted site but find yourself on an unencrypted page, log out right away.

• Don't stay permanently signed in to accounts. After using an account, log out.

• Do not use the same password on different websites. It could give someone who gains access to one account access to many accounts.

• Many suggestions are common sense, such as not leaving your computer unattended while your refill your coffee, and not staying logged in for extended periods of time while you're not online. A key thing to look for is whether you need a password to log in. If you don't, that means the network isn't secure.

• Be careful using hotspots to do banking and financial transactions. I prefer to do that at my home, where I have an encrypted, password-protected network and no-one looking over my shoulder.

• If you must do sensitive work online using a network you're not familiar with, protect yourself by changing your account passwords as soon as you can afterwards.


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