I never thought much about it. I would always click ‘connect’ when this prompt appeared:
But I recently learned some really bad things about using an unsecured network. Kristy Philippi’s online article, The Scoop on Using Unsecured Wireless Internet Connections explained several concerns of using an unsecured Wi-Fi. One thing is that that any criminal can use my access to conduct illegal business such as purchasing child pornography or illegal weapons, use your imagination. When the police investigate, the purchase or conversation can be traced to my phone. Another is the fact that others can access my personal information, especially if I am making a business transaction using a credit card. And yet another scary possibility Philippi explains is that a person can access all of the computers that are using the same connection. Would you want your hacking neighbor to see all of your information?
Eric Geier, an author of several computing and networking books, stated in his online article, “Any files you transfer between computers on an unsecured network, or files you open from network locations, can be captured by eavesdroppers. They could review the raw packets to see the contents of clear-text files. Again, they could also use a special sniffer to export and save the file(s). This includes database files, documents, zip files, images, audio files, everything”.
I might not be an important executive or a Wall Street entrepreneur but I really don’t want anyone to see what I am doing online especially to see how pathetic my bank account is. I guess when I am looking up my bank balance at the mall and I notice a person laughing I can assume they saw it.
Geier explains that there are services available to shut down Wi-Fi eavesdroppers such as AncorFree that can encrypt all Internet communications on public and unsecured networks. Philippi suggests however to simply avoid “shopping, transmitting password information, credit card usage, online banking or social media sites that requires providing personal or private information” while using an unsecured connection.
For me this information creates a conundrum. When I need information at a remote location I will probably only have access to an unsecured network. Should I forgo the information needed or take the risk?