Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access email, banking, AARP warns
This is a ksl.com article.
SALT LAKE CITY — Many consumers who use Wi-Fi sometimes place convenience ahead of safety on their Internet-capable devices, a report released Wednesday from the AARP Fraud Watch Network warns.
“The biggest concern is people checking their bank on public Wi-Fi because that could be very damaging to their accounts,” said Laura Polacheck, communications director of AARP Utah.
Forty percent of survey participants did not know that it is never safe to access websites containing sensitive information while on a public Wi-Fi network. The survey also found that 27 percent of those who use free public Wi-Fi have done their banking while on this type of connection within the past three months.
“Part of it is awareness. People don’t realize that there is a safety threat. They don’t think about (whether) a connection is safe or secure,” Polacheck said.
Only 39 percent of respondents said they access their banking via online. However, 45 percent of that group said they had not changed their online bank account passwords in the past 90 days.
“People should really be checking their bank account activity to see if there are any withdrawals and to flag suspicious activity,” said Polacheck. “If they have a secure password and if they change their password every 90 days, which is recommended by experts, their information will be safe, since the bank has encrypted their information.”
About 40 percent of those surveyed did not know that even if their password contains multiple letters, numbers, and symbols, they should not use the same password on multiple sites.
Another 27 percent of those who use public Wi-Fi also admitted that they have purchased a product or service online with their credit cards while on a public connection.
Many tablets, phones and other gadgets were unwrapped this past week. Experts say some of these items might be vulnerable to hackers trying to gain access to home networks.
Forty percent of respondents also did not know that if they are not using their Internet, they should disable their wireless connection when in a place that has a public Wi-Fi network.
Also, 84 percent of respondents did not know that Wired Equivalent Privacy is not the most up-to-date security for their home Wi-Fi network and 26 percent of participants do not have passwords on their smartphones.
AARP’s Fraud Watch Network has launched the “Watch Your Wi-Fi” campaign and suggests the following as “Four Things Never to Do on Public Wi-Fi.”
- Don’t fall for a fake: Con artists often set up unsecure networks with names similar to a legitimate coffee shop, hotel or other free Wi-Fi network.
- Mind your business: Don’t access your email, online bank or credit card accounts using public Wi-Fi.
- Watch your settings: Don’t let your mobile device automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi.
- Stick to your cell: Don’t surf using an unknown public network if the website requires sensitive information, like online shopping. Your cellphone network is safer.
The survey, conducted in April, yielded 800 respondents age 18 or older who accessed the Internet at least a few times per month.
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