Most people who constantly use public WiFi networks must understand the importance of having proper security measures to avoid exposing sensitive data. A recent report by ThreatMetrix found that banking information and personal files are vulnerable through WiFi networks, like those which are available open at the local coffee shop round the corner. The threat intensified with the increase in popularity of mobile devices like tablets, smartphones and laptops.

“Consumers can easily access public WiFi networks from just about anywhere – and so can cybercriminals,” said ThreatMetrix Product Manager Dean Weinert. “Cyber threats are certainly a reality at local coffee shops and other wireless hotspots. If consumers don’t take extra precaution to protect their personal devices, they can unwittingly share sensitive information with cybercriminals interfering on the network.”

Weinert encouraged people to access banking information at home and on WiFi networks that are protected by passwords. However, consumers should also make sure their systems are always updated with the latest fraud and malware software. Weinert said that roughly 20 percent of consumers fail to do so, placing them in greater danger of exposing personal information.

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Cybercriminals will not stop targeting unsuspecting consumers as long as people fail to follow effective security practices. One of the most important safeguards involves passwords, whether someone is at home using a PC or at the coffee shop with his or her smartphone. A password manager is the perfect solution to generate strong credentials to make it more difficult for hackers to gain the upper hand. These tools also help people avoid the hassle of remembering multiple passwords for all of their accounts, making life just a little easier. Another solution is to encrypt everything which is getting transferred from your device to the internet through the open WiFi networks.

Password security more difficult for some consumers

Despite the increased efforts throughout the security community to highlight the importance of password security, many are struggling to keep up in this regard. A recent survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute for Nok Nok Labs found that roughly half of people cannot complete online transactions because of authentication failures, with the majority of such incidents taking place because of consumers forgetting passwords, security questions or usernames.

Phillip Dunkelberger, CEO of Nok Nok Labs, explained that many people are continuing to rely on ineffective password methods.

“Not only are breaches increasing because of password re-use across different web services, but this failure and insecurity is reducing consumer confidence when doing business online,” Dunkelberger said. “It’s time we evolved our thinking about how businesses authenticate their customers.”

Although a number of people are failing to complete certain online transactions, some companies are providing clientele with effective checkout processes. The survey named banking institutions, internet service providers, credit card and payment businesses, social media websites and retailers as leaders in this area.

Consumers must always be on the lookout for malicious activity if they want to keep their most important information safe from cybercriminals. ThreatMetrix said that some hackers use network scanners to take advantage of system vulnerabilities, allowing them to take over a person’s device.

The man-in-the-middle approach is another dangerous situation, according to ThreatMetrix. This method allows hackers to intercept a victim’s internet connection and have full access to carry out attacks.

Other attacks are more subtle, including infiltration of high-resolution video cameras found on mobile phones. These devices allow criminals to capture valuable knowledge like login information or banking credentials.

In addition to maintaining operating systems and antivirus software that are always updated, consumers should always be aware of their surroundings. Failing to do so may expose their most important information and they may not even realize something is wrong until it is too late.

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Author

SK Mezanul Haque is the founder of MyTechGuide.org (popularly known as My Technology Guide). Passionate about all things in tech. Let's meet: Google Plus.

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