Mobile Matters: Silent Threats and Where the Mobile Frontier Is Headed

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Anyone who knows me would vouch for my passion for mobile trends and Internet security – they’ve literally been at the forefront of my career during my years with companies like Experian and Microsoft. In my new role as Chief Marketing & Customer Officer here at Private WiFi, I can truly say our personal VPN product is similarly at the forefront of mobile security and online privacy trends.

This week I read a New York Times article about the complete lack of Internet secrets. It stated that “Snooping doesn’t just happen on our desktops and laptops. In our mobile-centric world, it happens everywhere. Through our mobile phone, our locations are being corralled and calculated.” The article also pointed out that “Anyone who can watch you will watch you — in technology, that is one of the big lessons of 2013.”

That’s a tough pill to swallow for most people. But these alarming privacy issues are what make my decision to join Private WiFi so exciting – and they’re exactly the sort of topics I plan to cover in this space next year.

Just a couple days ago, our team here was rehashing some of our biggest privacy and security topics — but the question we should be asking ourselves is not “What’s the big story of 2013?” but “What are the silent threats of 2014?”

I believe there are silent security threats lurking at the millions and millions of unencrypted WiFi networks worldwide and in the way consumers use their mobile devices. That’s something to remember when you’re traveling through an airport this holiday season – or logging in from Starbucks or the so-called safety of your hotel room’s wireless connection.

There are currently 24 million known WiFi networks worldwide. Over half are unencrypted, which means that, like an unlocked door, they are completely open to anyone within radio range. This includes virtually all public hotspots in McDonalds, Starbucks, airports, parks, trains, and hotels.

In the United States, 43 million people use public WiFi hotspots to conduct personal or professional business. These hotspots carry warnings in their Terms and Conditions – but if you’re like most people, you agree to those terms without even reading them. When staying in hotels, even direct connection to most hotel Local Area Networks is vulnerable. LAN technology evolved years ago, for use within organizations, where security was never thought to be a major issue. The result is that most of today’s LANs can be hijacked, and all communication can be easily captured and stored on an unseen laptop.

Hackers are well aware of these problems. Software used to “sniff” WiFi or hijack LANs has been around for years and some has been downloaded from the web hundreds of thousands of times. “How to hack WiFi” has 5,050 videos on YouTube and 4.7 million hits on Google.

Remember when I said Private WiFi is at the forefront? I can’t stress enough how important VPN providers will become as WiFi networks continue to be deployed and serve more and more people every day.

As our many, many satisfied customers can attest, Private WiFi is such a pioneering product because it both protects your identity and secures your sensitive information when using WiFi hotspots. That means every time you connect to the Internet, Private WiFi activates invisibly in the background, creating an encrypted pathway to our nearest server in seconds. In addition to protecting your data, this secure connection also masks your IP address, giving you an added level of privacy.

It’s one thing to have the knowledge about the connected world of online and mobile devices – it’s another thing to share with our users, readers, and fans the big picture when it comes to mobile security trends. But that’s my plan in 2014 and I will be back with more “Mobile Matters” insights every few weeks.

 

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Alok Kapur

Alok Kapur is President and Chief Operating Officer at PRIVATE WiFi. In this role, Alok drive all aspects of marketing, business development and partnerships, sales and customer service for the company. Follow him on Twitter: @Aloknyc.