If you’re going to use WiFi connections in a hotel, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a conference room, or any other public space, then at least try to avoid the free and open netwerksite that you might find there. A prime example of what to avoid was reported and commented on in several articles on TheLocal.se, Ars Technica and WeLiveSecurity.com: participants of a security and defence conference in Sweden happily used an unencrypted WiFi network set up by a Pirate Party activist.
I find it quite humorous that socalled security experts got caught in this trap. At the same time I’m horrified that socalled security experts got caught in this trap. Clearly, the problem is people – and software on mobile devices is not always helping us to avoid potential desasters like this… Lawyers may contend that what happened was against privacy laws, but remember: the NSA and similar organisations don’t hold those laws in high esteem (and criminals won’t care about those laws either).
A legitimate wireless network connection should have WPA2 protection, and a user/password combo for you alone doesn’t hurt either. For important sites, like mail, banks, health care, etc. , try to use SSL-encryption as much as possible (we’ll still have to wait a long time before all network traffic is SSL-encrypted by default). When it comes to WiFi you really need to avoid any access points that want to intercept your internet traffic.
So if you need WiFi when you’re on the move, don’t let your phone or tablet grab just any connection that happens to be flying around, but ask the credentials for a decent connection. Most hotels, restaurants and cafés will be happy to provide you with what you need (if they have WiFi, of course), and these days most will offer it at no cost to you.
Here are a few extra tips:
- “Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Networks” (by the US Homeland Security Office)
- “9 Tips to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi” (
- “How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks” (