Luckily for Americans living in most major urban areas, there are an abundance of free, public internet hot spots available that allow you to surf the web without having to be plugged in. Whether you choose to work on your laptop, tablet or mobile device, these Wi-Fi areas can be extremely convenient if you need to conduct business on the run, but it can also be very risky. As it turns out, many of these popular networks have inadequate security safeguards in place, and just having your internet device turned on could be making your personal identification information vulnerable to identity theft.
As a November 2013 report from New York news affiliate WABC pointed out, many of the most popular Wi-Fi locations in Manhattan, including Lincoln Center and a popular Midtown Starbucks cafe, were all locations where a thief could set up shop unnoticed and go through your email or even access your bank account.
Although the source would not disclose how it is done, they tagged along with a security professional who demonstrated just how easy it is to gain access to someone’s personal information.
“You could steal someone’s identity. I believe I’ve already done that at this point […] This person is on Samsung’s website,” Raj, the security analyst, told the source during the operation. “I’m invisible. No one can see that I’m there.”
Raj recommends that people avoid doing important activities like banking or shopping on public networks as it makes financial information readily available to anyone eavesdropping. Look out for possible threats and protect your identity by staying vigilant and being a steadfast monitor on your personal and credit information.