By Ratapu Hippolite, Kaiwhakahaere Hangarau (IT/Contracts Manager)
While your home WiFi is (hopefully) encrypted and not able to be accessed by anyone else; the WiFi at the coffee shop isn’t. This means you’re at risk of people monitoring your online activity, or worse.
Unencrypted browsing in public
WiFi uses radio waves, and radio waves are anything but direct. If they have the right software, they broadcast, and this means that anyone within range can see everything you’re doing online. Without protection, anyone who wants to could see:
- every site you visit,
- every bit of text you send out,
- your login information for various sites.
So when using public computers or public WiFi (eg, library, schools, NMIT):
- log into anything that deals with finance, such as your bank or PayPal.
- type in any passwords if you can get along without doing so.
- check your bank account - wait until you get home to sort your finances.
Need to see if you can pay for your coffee or groceries? Use the data on your phone rather than public WiFi. Better still check your balance at home before you leave or use ATMs.
Is your password secure?
Using the word “password” for your password is the first one most hackers will try. Including a string of special characters and symbols makes it hard for you to remember, and so you might write it down, which then causes a whole lot of security issues depending where you store that written information.
What is recommended today is the use of a long but easy to remember phrase.
Using ‘horsecarrotsaddlestable’ would take one trillion years for a ‘botnet’ cyber attack to crack, in contrast to ‘P@55w0rd’ which would take one minute.