When you are traveling or low on data, the public Wi-Fi available in coffee shops, shopping centers, and hotels is a convenient way to hop online. But it’s not the safest.
Talented hackers know how to exploit these free hot spots, stealing your info to commit fraud and other nasty business.
Luckily, their plan only works if you share personal information on a shared connection. So, if you plan on taking advantage of free Wi-Fi, avoid the following everyday tasks and you’ll be safer.
1. Borrow Money
Disasters can happen while you’re on the go, but you don’t always have the savings you need to deal with them. If you’re caught short on cash, you might be tempted to search and apply for loans with your phone.
The first part of that process is acceptable to do in public. You don’t need to worry about people spying on you when you type a question like this into Google: what are fast personal loans online?
Looking for online direct lenders and finding out how much online loans cost won’t pose much of a risk. After all, you aren’t exchanging financial information to get your answers.
Things change when you try to get a loan by phone. A standard online loan application requires your bank account number, social security number, and employment information.
Online direct lenders need this info to run a background check and make sure you’re a good candidate. If you’re approved, they’ll set up a fast loans direct deposit with all that financial info.
All that personal information is exactly what hackers need to steal your identity and open fraudulent cash advances in your name. So, wait to apply for a loan by phone until you’re home.
2. Log into Financial Accounts
Have you ever wanted to check your bank balance before buying a latte? Or sign into your online loan account to double-check when your next payment will be taken out of your account?
Save these financial activities until you’re on a secured network. While checking these accounts may not involve filling out an application, it can still expose your data to hackers.
Your bank account, online loan, and even your budgeting app host confidential financial information that could be exposed.
More still, any hackers will also see the password and email combo you used to log in. A Google survey reveals a whopping 52 percent of people reuse passwords across multiple accounts. If you’re part of this majority, you’ve just given hackers the login credentials they need to access several accounts.
3. Check Your Email
If you’re taking a coffee break at your local café, you’ll want to avoid checking your work email. Think of all the conversations, access codes, contact details, attachments, and files it contains. Your inbox is a mixture of personal and proprietary information that should remain private.
If a hacker were to access this account, they would see all this information, plus they’d gain the keys to get into other accounts you set up with this email.
While your job may seem low stakes, the risk of an attack is never zero. The danger is elevated the higher you are on the totem pole, with C-level management having the most to lose.
Public Wi-Fi gives hackers an easy way to gain your corporate email account, so it’s best to wait until you’re a secured network to check it.
Not all public hotspots will corrupt your accounts or steal your identity. But a healthy dose of suspicion about the safety of these connections can keep your information private. Use it to do basic browsing that doesn’t require logins, financial information, or corporate data.