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Posted: 05 May, 2011 Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

BEWARE! Public Wi-Fi is NOT SAFE!

Visitors come to your website - but how are they connected to the Internet when they come?  That is the key.

If the connection is public - it is unprotected and can be easily hi-jacked by a "Wi-fi Attacker".  Here are just some of the unwanted results that might occur:

  • Any web surfing that is done can be watched - such as...
    • Visiting your bank website.
    • Spying on your chat conversations
  • Identity Theft - The Attacker can impersonate you - send emails from you, communicate with your contacts, or read your email history.  They can do anything that you can do on that site because once you log in, they can be right there with you as you go and do your business on that site. So when you leave that site, the Attacker can keep acting as you inside your account.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

The answer is to use TLS/SSL for all websites, including the home page. Why?  HTTP is the main way we commonly connect to most websites as we surf the Internet. But HTTP is unencrypted.  That means it is not secure, it is not hidden or coded, and is open for all to see.  Anyone who is on the same network connection can read it.  When you implement TLS/SSL, you truly lock out spies and can surf in privacy.

What is TLS/SSL?

  • SSL, or "Secure Socket Layer", is a set of rules which keeps Internet information secure. It does this by encrypting the information. It is used by websites whose names begin with "https" instead of "http".  A secure connection is created by using a "key" on the sending end and the receiving end of the data sending path.  The key is used to put the data into the secret code before it travels across internet lines. Then, a matching key is used to unlock the data and put it into readable format for the user.
  • TLS, or "Transport Layer Security", is the latest version of SSL. It is an enhancement of SSL.
  • ENCRYPTION - a method used to hide the data, or information, by encoding ordinary language into code.

DISPELLING MYTHS

Previously, it was thought that certain methods protected us from the problem. Let's review these:

  • 802.11 WIRELESS ROUTERS - More and more people are getting a wireless router in their home these days.  And many coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels offer wireless internet for their customers. But, here are the dangers:
    • WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) - the earliest security mechanism, turned out to be easily hacked.  WEP has now been replaced with WPA2 in newer routers.
    • WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2) - this is the mechanism now found everywhere. However, it is still easy to hack, even when it appears you have it set up with secure login procedures.  Find out why...
  • COOKIES -
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network)

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Updated: 07-23-2015