AARP is launching a campaign called “Watch Your Wi-Fi” to raise awareness of the risks of using those free networks. Spokeswoman Devorah Lanner says a lot of people set themselves up to fall victim to hackers.
“AARP recently conducted a survey of internet users across the country and we found a quarter of those surveyed use free public wi-fi once a week or more,” Lanner says. “That does pose all kinds of risks.” It’s not a good idea to let your mobile device automatically connect to nearby wi-fi networks and you should be especially careful if you do decide to use one.
“Banking online, making credit card transactions online using free public wi-fi,” Lanner says. “It’s not a secure network and can be very easily hacked and your information and identify stolen by cyber-thieves.” The survey also found 27 percent of respondents say they’ve banked online using public wi-fi in the last three months and the same percentage purchased items with credit cards. Lanner says to never even check your e-mail using public wi-fi.
“Typically, people will access public wi-fi at an airport, a hotel, a coffee shop, which is very convenient,” she says, “but without a secure network, people risk oversharing and leaving themselves vulnerable to attacks by con artists and hackers.” She also recommends changing your online bank account passwords every 90 days.