Internet Scams to Watch Out For: Free Wi-Fi Hotspot Trouble
Free Wi-Fi hotspots are great for our mobile world, and many people don’t think twice about connecting to the local coffee shop’s network to enjoy some no-charge web browsing while they get their caffeine fix.
Unfortunately, free Wi-Fi hotspots are a magnet for Internet scams.
All too often, bad guys are lurking nearby. They can create a Wi-Fi network too, and give theirs a name that sounds close enough to the legitimate Wi-Fi hotspot that they fool customers into logging in. If you see “AwesomeFreeStarbuxWiFi” in your network list, that’s not really Starbucks (SBUX) you’re logging into. And everything you do on that fake Starbucks Wi-Fi hotspot could be recorded — keystrokes, websites, passwords, credit card numbers…
What’s really worrisome is that even the real Wi-Fi hotspot could have issues. For example, sniffer attacks can result when someone nearby logs onto the same public network and uses software to eavesdrop on someone else’s browsing activity.
What to do: If you’re going to use public Wi-Fi hotspots, make sure the network you log into is legitimate, confirm that any websites where you might enter confidential information have a URL beginning with “https:” (meaning they are secure and encrypted), use a VPN device (to encrypt all your wireless activity), or just hold off on shopping and paying bills until you’re home on your own secured Wi-Fi network or back on cellular service.