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When you use your smartphone or tablet in a public place, you may be risking more than you think. Summer is winding down, but the beautiful autumn weather can be even better for working outside the office. If you use internet at a café, restaurant or in any other public place, you need to be aware of the privacy risks, such as:
- Accessing your device via Bluetooth, which is a portal for intruders to spam you, exploit your contacts or access your handset commands.
- Accessing your internet activity if you are using an unsecured or illicit wireless network.
- Peering over at your screen to gain your personal information.
- Theft or loss of the device altogether; whether it is out laying on a surface or you are wearing it.
How Do I Best Protect Myself?
The biggest security threat is when a public internet connection is not secured, which enables unauthorized people to intercept anything you are doing online. Be sure your connection between your device and WiFi is encrypted or if someone creates a fake hotspot that looks legitimate.
An encrypted connection will require you to enter a ‘key’ and will be a combination of letters and numbers. You could also be asked to login instead to enable internet access.
- Do not send private information when using public WiFi unless you are on a secure web page.
- Use well-known providers like T-Mobile.
- If you wish to access your corporate network, be sure to use a secure, encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN).
The best way to deal with this is to nip it in the bud and turn off your Bluetooth when not in use. If it’s too much trouble for you when you are on the go, keep your Bluetooth set to ‘undiscoverable’. Also, do not pair your devices in public places in case someone is scanning you while creating the connection. [If it’s your car, do it in your driveway]. Also, never accept a file transmitted through Bluetooth from unknown sources.
Loss or Theft
It can be easy to pop on your headphones and plug away on your phone or tablet. But try to look up and around often to notice those around you. Keep your belongings in full site at all times. Our distracted society makes it even easier for theft to take place in the safest of places. Sadly, a friendly stranger could be a distraction, so keep your valuables in site or in your hands when having conversations.