Sunday, December 19, 2010

Free public wifi, security, and you

As the computer nerd among us, I feel it's my duty to pass along a very important fact concerning free public wifi internet and your personal account. When you login to something (gmail, facebook, anything that requires authentication, etc.) your username and password is typically encrypted, but little else is. It's very easy for people/hackers to assume your identity on accounts by pulling your unencrypted cookies from the public wifi you're using. (This article is technical but easily understood if you have interest in knowing more.)

One of my developers walked me through this process and I was shocked to see what I could do "as" someone else on facebook, or whose email I could browse through. The good news is that most of these accounts require you to type in your old password before changing to a NEW password, so you shouldn't ever be locked completely out of your account, but much harm can be done before you know it. So! Beware of what you're doing on free public wifi -- this includes the airport (where I now sit typing this email as I'm avoiding Facebook for this very reason.) The good news is that Gmail can be saved. Each of you (ALL of you) should take the following steps to secure your Gmail connection.

1. Sign in to Gmail.
2. Click on Settings in the upper right hand corner.
3. Under the "General" tab, "Browser Connection" area, make sure "Always use https" is selected.

That's it! This will make sure Gmail is encrypting every page you're on when you access it -- from any device, on any network, anywhere in the world. PROMISE ME YOU'LL DO THIS.

Okay! That's it for me. A pre-Christmas gift from me to you. Not as great as a tin 'o three flavored popcorns, but a heckuva lot more useful, right?


Charone said...

Done and done. Much thanks for the heads up.

Brittney said...

Done. Thanks Nat.

Definitely, maybe, probaby related posts:

If NatA! posted a photo with this blog, here it is!