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Why you should never make an online purchase at an airport

It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a business trip or a holiday, public wifi networks can be a godsend when it comes to accessing the internet on your smartphone without incurring those outrageously expensive overseas data-roaming charges.

But while finding a free public wifi network while travelling can feel akin to finding an oasis when you’re lost in the desert, it’s important to recognize that open wifi networks, especially in large public spaces like airports or shopping centres, can be incredibly vulnerable to hackers who are looking to steal sensitive personal data from unsuspecting users.

Why is this so you ask? Well, the same thing that makes public wifi so useful also makes them dangerous – they are insecure, open and available to anyone. Generally when you use your wifi network at home or in the office, your network traffic and online activity is protected from unwanted eyes by encryption technology which works based on your network password.

The same goes for hotel wifi networks which are available to guests but are protected by a pass code based on either your guest details or a daily code-change. When you connect to a wifi network in an airport, shopping centre or coffee shop, these networks are often unencrypted and do not require password entry for usage, leaving them vulnerable to snooping by opportunistic hackers and data thieves.

In these situations any tech-savvy cyber cowboy can view every unencrypted web page you’re viewing at the same time as you are. Even if the network IS password protected, it’s most likely a shared password which can easily be obtained by asking nicely at the information desk. We know, quite a scary thought isn’t it.
There are plenty of other good reasons why using sensitive data on a public wifi network is a dangerous road to travel, but we don’t want to bore you by getting too ‘techy’. Instead, here’s a quick list of things you should NEVER do while using a public wifi network.

  1.  Online banking or shopping
  2. Reading or sending sensitive work emails
  3. Opening sensitive attachments within email
  4. Accessing cloud storage application which contain sensitive information
  5. Entering sensitive information which gives details of your identity (passport details, driver’s license information, credit card information, health care information)
  6. Logging into work servers and/or systems remotely

Think we’ve missed something? Why not write to us on Facebook, we’d love to hear your feedback! Alternatively if you’d like to discuss ways to improve your business travel activities, contact us today.