Now I Get It: Watch your Wi-Fi

In an ever-growing digital age, most of us are aware that our personal data is at risk.

In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study, nearly two-thirds of Americans have experienced some form of data theft. But despite that, more than half of adults online access public Wi-Fi, and this can put personal and financial information at risk of being stolen by hackers.

Cybersecurity experts from the NCC group highlighted Wi-Fi scams to watch out for:

The “man in the middle” attack is when the hacker positions him or herself between the user’s device and a public Wi-Fi connection. They can intercept traffic without the user’s knowledge using new hacking tools — meaning your personal information could be up for grabs.

The “evil twin” attack occurs when a scammer sets up a fake Wi-Fi network. They use a name similar to a legitimate network your device has automatically connected to before — such as “home” or “default.” The hacker relies on your device recognizing the similar fake name and automatically connecting to it, putting your sensitive information at risk.

Hackers can even steal information through your home Wi-Fi if it’s poorly protected. “War drivers” troll neighborhoods with hacking devices, and when they find an open, unprotected network, they’ll use the “man in the middle” technique to steal personal information.

Here are some tips to help you watch your Wi-Fi:

The first way to ensure security is to disable your wireless connection if you’re in a place which has public Wi-Fi. While cell phone networks have risks, they’re safer than using public Wi-Fi.

It’s not safe to shop online, or access your email or online bank accounts when you are connected to public Wi-Fi.

Even if the connection requires a password, it can’t protect you from cyber thieves on the same network.

To avoid an “evil twin” attack, don’t allow your device to automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi.

Check your home Wi-Fi to make sure your system uses Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or WPA2.