Thursday, April 14, 2016

How Safe Are Personal Hotspots?

Wi-Fi has become a household word in the past 2 decades. Free WiFi is also an amenity offered by stores, restaurants, and hotels all over the United States. But how safe is free WiFi?

There are several ways in which WiFi poses the threat of Internet crimes. “Since the Internet is a relatively new phenomenon, the laws governing Internet usage may vary widely according to region or state. However, the following types of Internet activity can be classified under the broad umbrella term of “Internet theft”: 

  • Phishing scams
  • Bulk e-mail scams
  • Online piracy (illegally downloading music, videos, etc.)
  • Internet fraud scams
  • Identity theft accomplished over the web
  • Criminal activity associated with social networking sites
  • WiFi connection issues (i.e., using another persons’ account to perpetrate a theft)
While most of us have used free WiFi at some point or another, “names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, bank account information, and credit card information are at risk when using public Internet.”

Public places offering WiFi are more of a target than individual residences with WiFi. Low-level hackers are here watching and waiting for a hit on a password or credit card information, whereas higher-level thieves target large companies and major corporations.

When using a personal hotspot, there are three ways to connect:

  1. Bluetooth pairing
  2. USB Wire
  3. WiFi
There is a fair amount of protection surrounding connecting with each method. Bluetooth requires pairing by both devices, the wired option requires the user to have both devices hooked up to the wire, and WiFi usually requires a password.

Although some have reported anomalies associated with using a personal hotspot, they are unsubstantiated, therefore proving that personal hotspots remain a safe option for computer users everywhere.