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How to Protect Yourself from Attack

With the emergence of smartphones and laptops, companies are offering free public Wi-Fi hotspots to customers. Your favorite coffee shop, airport, hotel, or bookstore wants to help you pass the time while you wait. But while you are surfing via their free network, odds are there is a hacker doing the same. By connecting to a public Wi-Fi location, your computer becomes “networked” to the others in that area. This means that hackers have a route into your computer, smartphone, or tablet. And while they are taking information from you, you may also be unknowingly downloading viruses, worms, and malware from them.

Remember you are in public. By concentrating on your device, it is easy to forget the people around you. The Wi-Fi network is being shared by everyone in the vicinity and they can eavesdrop on your activity. If you would not say something personal or private over the phone in public, don’t do it on your mobile device.

Here are some tips to secure the public Wi-Fi hotspots on your device.

  • Before leaving, be sure your device has the most current firewall, operating system, and antivirus and anti-spyware software updates.

  • Free Wi-Fi will never ask for your credit card. This is an indication of a fake hotspot connection. Hackers set up a fake Wi-Fi and broadcast it on the public domain. Be careful that you are connecting to the location’s authentic Wi-Fi.

  • If you receive unsolicited or unexpected requests for information, “friending”, sharing, etc., stop what you are doing and disconnect from the network. These are phishing attempts from a hacker in the vicinity.

  • Try to connect to your company’s VPN (Virtual Private Network), if they have one. Contact your company’s IT staff for help. If your company does not have one, there are third-party VPN vendors.

  • Use an encrypted webpage. Look for the padlock, the “S” after HTTP, or SSL connections. SSL connections show as a green address bar with a padlock.

  • Turn off sharing and be sure to connect via “Public Network” instead of Home or Business.

  • Smartphones and laptops may automatically connect to a Wi-Fi area. Check your device and turn off the default Wi-Fi setting when you are not using it.

  • Do NOT conduct financial transactions or access applications like email and instant messaging.

  • Do not save passwords, as tempting as that may be, since saved passwords make it easier for a hacker to compromise your financials and identity.

  • When you get home, run a malware scanner, just to be sure nothing malicious downloaded to your device.

Following these steps does not ensure the safety of the public Wi-Fi networks. These steps help to stop some attempts but they are not foolproof. For more tips, follow this link for advice from the FBI.

If you feel that you have been compromised:

  • Inform the business. They often do not know that their networks have been breached.

  • Contact Bank Mutual Customer Care at 1-800-261-6888 to disable your online banking access.

Contact the Federal Trade Commission for help with credit scores, reporting a breach, or guidance: