If Mark Zuckerberg being questioned by congress proved anything, it’s that old politicians know nothing about the internet.
However, in 2016, most of the attendees at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions fell for the same trick… would you?
A social study was set up where private entities gave delegates access to free public Wi-Fi networks at both conventions.
In the end, about 70% of people connected to the non-password protected Wi-Fi networks at both conferences.
This means they left the entire contents of their laptop and phones free for poaching.
Should Politicians Have Known Better?
You would think high-level political figures would be terrified of sensitive “leaking” from their personal devices.
Just look at what recently happened in Germany, as hundreds of politicians were recently hacked. Closer to home, the U.S. Republican’s campaign email server was hacked leading up to the election. And many argue that a personal email account may have cost Hilary Clinton an entire election.
So one would assume that anyone in the public eye or public office would be hypersensitive to e-attacks and leaks.
Would You Know Better?
It seems safe enough. Someone from an event that you’re attending says this is a dedicated Wi-Fi network just for you.
Do you thank them for the VIP treatment, or do alarm bells go off when you see it’s unsecured?
One would think that someone remotely tech-savvy would question why a dedicated connection for them isn’t secured? If this is truly just for us to use, what’s stopping everyone in this building from logging on because there is no password?
Odds are pretty good that if you’re reading this article, you have the wherewithal to know that unsecured networks when you’re on the go are a massive no-no.
The Real Dangers of Public Wi-Fi
Many of us who work remotely or on the go have learned to never log onto an unsecured network, as well as to look for the padlock and HTTPS seal of approval on the sites we visit. We know not to do any financial work or online banking on public connections, no matter what.
However, these steps are still not a bulletproof vest. You’re certainly safer, but you’re never 100% safe.
How vulnerable are we in this climate? Recent research found that about 5.5% of the top 10,000 websites secured by HTTPS still had TLS security flaws. These sites could be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks or allow an attacker to at least partly decrypt them.
When you’re in a public place using a public network, you’re a target for cyber attacks, period. You may not be a celebrity, a high-power CEO, or a politician running for office, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to lose. It just means your attack won’t make headlines.
Remember to do the little things like getting a VPN, and encrypting your devices. You also need to be smart with your passwords and make them as complex as possible and avoid using the same one across all your accounts. Also, don’t put them in the Notes app on your iPhone. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) can also go a long way.