Cybersecurity Awareness: Wi-Fi

Learn how free, public Wi-fi may cost you.
November 2, 2018

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). To help raise awareness and educate members of the college community on the importance of cybersecurity, IT will be offering tips and information. This week’s topic is free, public Wi-Fi.

Be careful when using Wi-Fi hotspots. When you connect to Wi-Fi, your communications may not be private unless you are using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN allows you to send and receive data across a public network as if you were actually on a private network, so anyone intruding on the Wi-Fi connection cannot see or capture your data or login credentials.

Attackers often set up “open” Wi-Fi access points with names similar to the name of the establishment. This fools users into using the attackers’ open network, allowing them to capture your keystrokes and spy on your communication. For example, when visiting a local Starbucks you may see two options for Wi-Fi, one called “Starbucks Wi-Fi” and one called “Free Starbucks Wi-Fi”. Most people will choose the free version, however, just because a network is free does not mean it is secure! If there are not signs telling you the name and password of the authentic network, you will not know which to choose unless you ask. 

15 Tips to Staying Secure While Staying Connected

Contact Mike Wilson at mikewilson@cwi.edu or 208.562.3193 with questions or for more information, and stay tuned for more tips in future issues of Bert’s Alerts.