Tuesday Tech Tips: FTC Wi-Fi Tips Edition

Posted by: on Feb 22, 2011 | No Comments

I wrote a couple of blog posts about Firesheep and safe browsing habits using public Wi-Fi hotspots here and here.  I received a nice email from the FTC as they noticed I had been blogging about Firesheep. (side note: The FTC is reading my blog! The FTC is reading my blog! Yeah baby)  Anyway my new best friend at the FTC wanted to let us know:

As you know, public Wi-Fi hotspots — like the ones in coffee shops, hotels or airports — are convenient, but they often aren’t secure. Most don’t use encryption, so your personal messages, contacts, family photos, and even login credentials could be accessed by others.

In fact, new hacking tools – freely available online – make it easy to access unencrypted information, which could be used to scam you or someone you care about. That’s why the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has developed tips for using Wi-Fi hotspots.

You can find the FTC tips at http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/hotspots.aspx.

Go read the entire page. It’s not long and I will still be here when you return.  Go on now. Go.  Back already?  You sure do read fast. Let review a couple of key tips:

  • When using a Wi-Fi hotspot, only log in or send personal information to websites that you know are fully encrypted. And keep in mind that your entire visit to each site should be encrypted – from the time you log in to the site until you log out. If you think you’re logged in to an encrypted site but find yourself on an unencrypted page, log out right away.
  • Don’t stay permanently signed in to accounts. When you’ve finished using an account, log out.
  • Do not use the same password on different websites. It could give someone who gains access to one of your accounts access to many of your accounts.
  • Many web browsers alert users who try to visit fraudulent websites or download malicious programs. Pay attention to these warnings, and take the extra minute or so to keep your browser and security software up-to-date.

Thanks for reading and thanks to Nicole from the FTC for pointing me to their website. Now go forth and continue to practice safe browsing.