While we all can agree that it’s nice to have WiFi hotspots available (including when we’re walking around New York City), how many of the people accessing these hotspots know that anything they do online while using them can be intercepted and viewed by hackers?
According to AT&T, over 10,000 people access their WiFi hotspots daily in New York City parks. That’s a LOT of possible victims.
Hackers have a multitude of tools that they can use to grab your information when you log onto public WiFi. One way they can do that is by using simple software (available for free on the Internet) which allows them to “sniff” your Internet communications, when means that they can see everything you do online, from the content of your emails to your bank log-in information and credit card numbers.
Or they can set up an Evil Twin, a fake network with a real-sounding name. When you log onto it (and many of them are impossible to tell from legitimate ones), all of your Internet communication is routed through the hacker’s computer before being sent on to the Internet. He can pick and choose what he wants to steal.
The main point is that public WiFi networks are completely insecure, and it’s entirely your responsibility to protect yourself when you log onto one.
Staying Safe on Public WiFi
Below are some tips about how to stay safe when using a public WiFi network, like the one at the High Line:
- Make sure your firewall is turned on and your antivirus software is up to date.
- Use complex passwords on all of your online accounts and remember to change them at least once every six months.
- Turn off file sharing and disable features that automatically connect you to any available wireless network. This will prevent you from accidentally connecting to a fake WiFi hotspot or a stranger’s computer.
- Use a personal VPN like PRIVATE WiFi to protect your sensitive information whenever you use a WiFi hotspot. VPNs encrypt the data traveling to and from your computer and make you invisible to identity thieves and hackers.
The High Line is undoubtedly a New York treasure. The new public WiFi network extends from 14th Street to 16th Street – just make sure your private information doesn’t become a hacker’s treasure as well.