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Always Watch Your Cyber Back

Close up of a woman using a laptop in the kitchen

Every day, tens of thousands of people’s computers, phones, and online worlds are compromised through public Wi-Fi networks. Yes, Wi-Fi networks. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from would-be hackers.

Be Careful on Public Wi-Fi
According to the Federal Trade Commission, some of the most unsecure places to go online are in coffee shops, libraries, airports, hotels, universities, and other public places. If you connect to an unsecure Wi-Fi network, your device and personal information could be accessed by other people. And some of those people might not have the best of intentions.

If you need to use an unsecure Wi-Fi network, stick to sites that are fully encrypted. Encryption scrambles the information you send over the internet. You can tell if a site is encrypted by looking for an https at the start of the web address. The “s” stands for secure. However, an encrypted website can only protect the information you send to and from that site. Anything else you do on your phone, tablet, or computer is not protected.

Apps are Not More Secure
According to Federal Trade Commission officials, apps are even more likely to be hacked than websites. If you are using an unsecure Wi-Fi network, they strongly suggest you do not use apps that send or utilize personal or financial information. Instead, use your phone or tablet’s data to send private information.

Not All Wi-Fi is Equal
Even if the network you log into requires a password, it’s up to you to protect your personal information. Here are few ways you can protect yourself on a Wi-Fi network.

  • Logout of the network when you’re not using it or when you leave.
  • Change the settings on your mobile device so that you don’t automatically connect to public Wi-Fi.
  • Do some research into virtual private networks (VPNs). They are simple to set up and can add a layer of protection to your online world.
  • WEP and WPA encryption are the standard, but they are not as strong as WPA2. When possible, login to networks using WPA2.
  • Installing browser add-ons may help. Force-TLS and HTTPS-Everywhere are free options.

Monitor Your Financial Life Daily
Issues that affect your finances and credit can be warning signs of possible fraudulent activity. Always be on the lookout for any unknown transactions on credit card and checking accounts, monthly charges you didn’t okay, and be sure to monitor your overall credit.

Contact InRoads
If your card is ever lost, stolen, or you worry you may have been the victim of cyber fraud, give InRoads a call at 503.397.2376. For lost or stolen credit cards after hours, call 800.275.6434. Outside the U.S., call country code 001 and then dial 410.581.9994. We’ll do what we can to help you find the right agency to file a report or complaint.

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