We all know the basic rules of Internet privacy. However, we’re very comfortable with our own usage at work or at home. It’s easy to just adopt those same rules wherever we access the Internet, but that’s where the danger lies. All Internet access points are not created equal. The following is a list of places to be sure to not take your Internet privacy for granted, as there is possible danger lurking and waiting.
Hotels make it so easy to access their High-speed Internet access. Sometimes it’s just available automatically throughout the building, and at other times they give you a passcode. However, if it’s that easy for you to access the Internet, it’s also that easy for others to access your information. While using a hotel’s Internet access, you never want to share any private information. The hotel’s network places a cookie that allows you the access. The cookie isn’t on your system, but on theirs, so there isn’t any way to erase their connection to you.
2. In-flight Wifi
In-flight Wifi used to be an anomaly, but now it seems to be the norm more often than not. It can be expensive considering you’re getting that access for only a few hours, yet it’s so handy to be able to do work while flying, taking advantage of that time. However, most airlines use the Gogo service, and they offer no encryption, making it easy for hackers to help themselves to your login information to sites. Additionally, some devices will keep searching for the Gogo network even after you have left the airplane.
3. Fast Food Joints
How many times do you stop in McDonald’s more for the Wifi than the sandwich? It has great allure to go in for a quick bite to eat and get caught up on Facebook and Twitter while maybe also doing a little bit of work that you just couldn’t leave at the office. But it may not be a wise place to be using the Wifi. These places, along with Starbucks and similar outfits, don’t use proper security, leaving you, the customer, vulnerable to hackers.
While you may be thinking, “If my neighbor chooses to not make his Wifi private, that’s his problem,” you’re right that it’s his problem, but if you go ahead and use his access, it becomes your problem as well. If he’s not locking down his Wifi and has no concern for Internet privacy, then he has just made his Internet use available to everyone, including hackers. If you go ahead and use it as well, you become just as vulnerable.
They may be a truly great friend and may be very giving to the point they don’t mind letting you use their Wifi all the time, but every time you leave personal information on a friend’s computer, you are putting complete trust in your friends. It’s not that we shouldn’t trust our friends, but if there is something you don’t want your friends to know, don’t share it on their computers, as you never know when or how they might be able to access it.
Most libraries now offer free Internet access for those people who don’t have Internet access at home. While it sounds good in theory, as libraries have always been thought of as safe, they aren’t as safe as they appear to be, at least while on the Internet. You can read books anonymously, but many times can’t touch a computer at the library so anonymously, as you’re forced to present a library card or leave some type of identifying information. That information only needs to be matched up to your time on the computer in order to access any personal information you may have left behind.
Just as library usage has changed over the years, so has education. More and more students are being required to have iPads. Sometimes they are even given to a student to use throughout the school year. Some assignments are required to be completed online. Since not every student has Internet access, that means the schools need to make it accessible to the students.
But is it safe? You would think it should be if students are using it. Yet that’s not necessarily so. When my kids were younger I was required to sign something saying it was okay for them to access the Internet, just in case they ran into something my parenting didn’t approve of. I no longer have to sign such things. It seems as if it’s too widespread and too expected. Each school has their own network, so it’s hard to say if it’s safe or not. But being that these are our children, it’s best not to take the chance and to just advise them to not leave personal information on the school computers.
All of this means it’s really best not to leave any personal information on any computer other than your own. Your computer system is the only one you can trust to deal with your personal information. When news circulates that cell phone companies are making our private cell phone date available to the NSA, that becomes enough of a reason to know that in addition to being careful on our cell phones, we should also be careful when using public Wifi.
Just remember this rule of thumb regarding Internet Privacy and public Wifi and Internet access: Everyone who uses that computer or network has possible access to everything you have just shared. Share wisely.
Image Sources: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HK_Disney%27s_Hollywood_Hotel_Cafe_internet_bar.JPG” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Bvld11, Curtis Palmer, Biblioteka Publiczna w Dzielnicy Bemowo m.st. Warszawy, Bartmoni