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Security and You: Free Public Wi-Fi

man sitting at table with laptop, phone and cup of coffee

We’ve all heard how the Equifax hack could potentially impact nearly 150 million U.S. consumers. While that was a terrible event, it was not entirely unexpected. Our online world is riddled with security loopholes that are perfect for would-be hackers and identity thieves. One of the easiest ways for criminals to steal your private data is through free public Wi-Fi. Fortunately, there are some ways you can protect yourself.

Safe Wi-Fi isn’t Always Safe
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 could be open to the public.

Apps are Not More Secure
According to FTC 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. Be sure to logout of the network when you’re not using it or when you leave. Also, change the settings on your mobile device so that you don’t automatically connect to public Wi-Fi.

Think your financial information may have been compromised? Give us a call at 503.397.2376 or stop by any branch. We’ll show you how to get a free, annual copy of your credit report and how to spot possible fraudulent activity.