3rd Day: Stopping Hackers When You’re Shopping on Wi-Fi

Holiday Security Tips: On the third day of Christmas, the experts gave to me, 3 stymied hackers!

Although you may trust the baristas at your local coffee shop, you can’t always trust the person sitting next to you. Hackers can easily tap into Wi-Fi connections at public hot spots to steal your identity information, including credit card and bank account numbers. This can be especially dangerous during the holiday season when “hotspot sniffers” come out of the woodwork using free monitoring apps like Firesheep.

Solution: Stop shopping online using free Wi-Fi hotspots.

To shop online while out in public, take the following precautions:

  • Enable tethering on your smart phone. Tethering connects your computer to the Internet using a Smartphone (or Internet-enabled cell phone). It increases security because the mobile transmission between your cell phone and the cell tower is encrypted (scrambled) and hard to intercept. Therefore, when you use your Smartphone to surf the web, you are accessing a protected connection that probably can’t be sniffed. The connection might be slightly slower than a traditional Wi-Fi hotspot, but it is also much safer. Simply call your wireless provider and ask them if your Smartphone has tethering capabilities. You shouldn’t have to pay more than about $15 per month to put this solution into effect.
  • Make sure that you shop on reputable websites, not just those with the cheapest prices. Your only risk isn’t your internet connection, but the number of scamming sites that pop up during the holidays.
  • Before you hit the Buy button, make sure you’re using a secured site. Look for “https” (not just “http”) in the URL address bar.  Some browsers and websites also change the color of the URL bar (e.g., to green) and add a padlock symbol to indicate tighter security.

So take a break from the craziness to enjoy that java, but watch the Wi-Fi and spend securely! On the fourth day of Christmas…

John Sileo helps businesses defend against data exposure by speaking at conferences looking for highly relevant content delivered with humorous audience interaction. See video clips of John on stage and in the media.


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