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Staying Safe on Free Wi-Fi

By Dennis Jones

CEO Gary Griffiths sits down with Travel Market Report

Stay Save While Using Free Wi-Fi

If you’re a mobile worker, chances are you’re spending at least some time in airports and hotels. It’s even more likely that once there, you’ll need to connect. But things get a little tricky when you’re on the road and unable to access your home or corporate Wi-Fi. That’s why CEO Gary Griffiths sat down with Cheryl Rosen of Travel Market Reportto answer three important questions for mobile users who want to stay digitally safe on free Wi-Fi.

Of course, using free Wi-Fi opens up the Pandora’s box of security and privacy risks, from man-in-the-middle attacks to identity spoofing, and tracking by ISPs. In the words of Dutch correspondent, Maurits Martijn: “We took a hacker to a café and, in 20 minutes, he knew where everyone else was born, what schools they attended, and the last five things they googled.”

But as Griffiths noted, free Wi-Fi is often the only option available on the go. And when that’s the case, it’s best to exercise extreme caution. For instance, users should turn off the sharing feature on laptops or mobile devices. Leaving that feature enabled gives other users on free Wi-Fi direct access to your files. Griffiths also counseled users to make sure the websites they’re connecting to support HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure), which provides more security than HTTP.

Not only did Griffiths give tips to keep hackers out, but he also warned users about being lured in. Hackers can create fake hotspots by using a Rogue Access Point, which mimics a free Wi-Fi hotspot. To stay safe, users need to make sure they’re connecting to free Wi-Fi hotspots that offer clear terms of service, as most hotel and airport Wi-Fi networks do.

Griffiths concluded that the best security on an untrusted connection comes from the use of a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs allow users to route online activity through a secure private network. Traditionally, mobile workers will have to use the corporate VPN to access the corporate network from a remote location. But many businesses don’t offer corporate VPNs. And for their mobile users, iPass now offers added security with the Last Mile VPN.

Surf safely.