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Security Tips for Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

Public Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) hotspots enable Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices, such as laptop computers and mobile phones, to connect wirelessly to the Internet at broadband (high) speeds.

The main security risks to mobile devices are having malicious software, such as viruses, Trojans or worms, transferred to your mobile device via software download in an e-mail message or in a (possibly undetected) background download. The problems can be more serious if you have private or confidential information stored on your phone. These are the same risks that any computer faces while connected to the public Internet.

But Wi-Fi connectivity poses an additional risk. The wireless communication between your device and the Wi-Fi access point can be monitored wirelessly ("sniffed") by someone nearby you. They could "see" the information you are sending or receiving, including access codes, user names, account IDs, passwords and personal or confidential information. Then they use this information to steal information or money from you or commit fraud.

Protect your mobile device against malicious intrusion and attack while using a public Wi-Fi hotspot by following these guidelines:

  1. Make sure your mobile device is connected to a legitimate wireless access point.
  2. Use a virtual private network (VPN) for accessing your work or files through the network. A VPN encrypts your data going through the public (unencrypted) network.
  3. Use a personal firewall software application on your mobile device to prevent access by a malicious source. See Mobile Phone Security and Anti-virus Software.
  4. Use anti-virus software on your mobile device. Update your virus definitions regularly. See Mobile Phone Security and Anti-virus Software.
  5. Update your operating system regularly, especially for security patches.
  6. Be aware of people around you, especially when you dial-in, are connected to, or are using, the wireless network.
  7. Use a Web-based e-mail system, such as at your Internet service provider (ISP), that employs a secure Web address ("https://mail.yourisp.com ").
  8. Turn off the file sharing feature on your device, so malicious software cannot save or use files on your device.
  9. Encrypt files before transferring or e-mailing them.
  10. Password-protect your computer, phone and important files. See Tips for Keeping Passwords Safe and Secure.

Go to Mobilook's Mobile Phone Safety and Security page.

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