Tips to Stay Safe During the Holidays: Avoid ‘Free WiFi’ Traps


With the holidays rolling approaching it is not surprising to see people taking vacation days and running around town but hackers never take the day off. It is especially dangerous around the holiday season when it comes to public WiFi networks. Ensure you stay protected by following these tips to stay safe during the holidays. Be careful connecting to that WiFi network in the mall or airport this season since that network might not be legitimate. With the advent of mobile hotspots hackers are now taking advantage of the popular practice of retail stores providing open WiFi networks to their customers. We are seeing these malicious individuals setting up ‘fake’ hotspots designed to trick the victim into connecting to it in order to steal your data or compromise your accounts. This is referred to as a man-in-the-middle attack whereby these perpetrators intercept your network communication and pull out important information like account logins, passwords, pictures, etc. So, you might be asking, how can I protect myself this holiday season? Here’s how to stay safe during the holidays:





  • If you are not using your WiFi, turn it off.

If your WiFi is turned on and someone sets up a network that your phone recognizes but leaves it open (doesn’t ask for a password) then your mobile device will automatically connect to this hackers network. In my case, I traditionally use the WiFi when I get a coffee at McDonalds in the morning and I have connected to their free WiFi before. Now, if someone were to setup a fake hotspot in the restaurant my phone will recognize it and attempt to connect. Since the fake hotspot doesn’t ask for a password, my phone will connect without me even being aware. When it’s not in use, turn off your WiFi.



  • Do not connect to a network if you aren’t familiar with it, or if it seems new or not quite right (not the norm).

Sometimes hackers will go to places that do not normally have free WiFi like the public park, certain malls, or public places like the train station. They will create a fake network that looks legit. If you go somewhere and you know that they don’t normally offer free WiFi, ask a representative before you connect to it. Hackers love to exploit human behaviors, “ohhhhh…free WiFi!”. Don’t fall for it, avoid free wifi traps. 



  • Lastly, if you are connecting to a free WiFi hotspot don’t do anything that would involve sensitive information

Sometimes, you really need to connect to a network because there is awful cell reception in that particular area. We get it, we do it too. But for heavens sake do not login to your banking app, or check your hedge funds while using a WiFi network that you cannot guarantee to be secure. While we understand this, there might be operations also going on in the background (email sync, Facebook notifications come in, maybe your gmail checks for new calendar appointments, etc.) All these background services are running without you actively doing anything so once again, unless you absolutely have to check your Facebook notifications it is best to wait for a secure connection.


If you think you have been the victim of an attack or an exploit please contact us so that we can help.

To find out if our services are right for you, {{cta(’77fe097a-c20f-49d8-b64b-decbe9048e3d’)}}