Saturday, February 19, 2011

Public WiFi - Looking Over My Shoulder

I went to get an oil change for my car this afternoon. I had a book that I want to, a real book so I figure I'll be able to find diversion for the hour or so that I would be sitting there. But if I needed to connect to the internet, there was a public WiFi should I choose to use it.

I didn't. There was a few of us waiting and we started talking about the All-Star Weekend. Still, had I chose to use it, it could be a bit scary.

If I did end up access it, I find it prudent to look around and see if anyone else is around because, as you may or may not now, an unsecured access point is just a recipe for disaster.

Now, I admit that from time to time, I even go as far as to access sensitive personal information through a Borders or Starbucks WiFi. It is definitely something I don't recommend and at the time, I told myself that it looks like only a few people are on the network and they look like nice people.

Still, who knows right? No identity theft criminals is going to go around identifying themselves. And there are more ways than one for someone to steal information zipping around within the public WiFi bubble. Even without a laptop, someone on a mobile device that could have been trying to steal information from me and I would have no idea that was happening.

There are a couple of things I do once I get home. First, I clear all the cache, cookies, and anything I can think off to rid any data collected from surfing the Web during the public session. Then I changed the passwords of the sites that I might have used.

As a matter of fact, I created a Google account just for this purpose. I am a religious user of Reader on Google. And I use this public account just for this. If by some chance, it is compromised, not a whole lot is lost and nothing of value was put in jeopardy. Even then, I still change the password once I return home or at the very next opportunity I get.

I think I've got an advantage in that I've also got my iSpot from Clearwire with me. It can provide me with up to 4 hours of Internet access. There is always that.

But that is not an option that I imagine many readers have. So if you do have to log into a public network, make sure you do it knowing that your data up for for the grab and that you protect yourself by changing passwords when you get home.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod touch

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