Dangers of Free Public Wifi


“Free Wifi” – two words we see on coffee shop signs and stores everywhere… 

They’re two words that most of us love to see. 

But, are we putting our personal information at risk by using free public wifi?

Happening now…Emily Medalen is live to give us the scoop.


Tim and Alysia, yes, I was shocked when I learned how common this has become in the past few years.

I spoke with Guru of Geek, Marlo Anderson, who gave me the lowdown on how to protect your identity in a time where it can easily be stolen with just a few clicks on a computer.

“It’s crazy common,” says Marlo Anderson, Guru of Geek.

Free public wifi may be convenient…but often, it poses a threat to the privacy of your personal information.

“If you’re accessing your bank account, if you’re accessing your Facebook page and you type in your username and password, that means anybody in that range would have the potential to steal that data from you,” says Anderson.

Anderson says one of the most common programs, hackers use is called the Sniffer, which gives them access to everything you pull up on your phone or computer if you’re on that wifi network.

“The person that’s right next to you might be running this program, and they’re able to see everything that everybody’s doing within that coffee shop,” says Anderson.

Another method that’s becoming more common is setting up fake free wifi accounts.

“You sit down in a coffee shop, and you open up your wifi and you’re like, ‘Oh, here’s a free one!’ and bang, you click on it, yeah you have internet, but they’re stealing everything you’re putting through there,” says Anderson.

So, how do you know if you’re in the clear to use public wifi?

“It’s okay to use the public Wifi stuff if you’re just doing general things, but as soon as you’re going to access your bank account or something, you want to move to that encrypted thing,” says Anderson.

Anderson says encryption is key.

Most large chains like Target, Starbucks, and Classic Rock Coffee, have their wifi encrypted, which means your information is protected.

But, many hotels and smaller businesses are not – and that’s where you should be careful.

“There’s so much identity theft these days because of this issue,” says Anderson.

He says if you’re unsure whether or not the wifi is encrypted, you should always stay off of it. 

“You need to be vigilant when you’re out there. If you’re unsure just don’t do it.”

He says he has seen this kind of theft happen MANY times in big cities, and that it’s becoming easier, and more common for hackers to do this. 

It’s a scary thought, technology is progressing all the time and we need to know what we’re doing in cases like this.


Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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