Free cheese on every corner

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I’ve noticed that our everyday vocabulary regularly expands with specific technical terms, for example, even people far removed from high-energy physics know there is a Hadron Collider. While at the same time very few people can explain how it works or just what we need it for.

The same thing with wireless access technology (WiFi). Everyone has heard about WiFi, and many use WiFi each day – few and far between are the people who understand the fundamentals.

Moreover, if we played a word association game we would find that almost 100% of the participants would say that the word WiFi is associated with the word Free. No surprise here.

Today free Internet access by WiFi is everywhere. The ubiquitous “hot-spot” is in cafes, on buses, in parks, at hotels, in the library, at the museum, in a student’s dorm – everywhere! Its probably easier to create a list of where there is no WiFi available.

Internet access everywhere – who could argue with that? And the more access points, the better. But, if we continue our word association game with the word “free” – the most popular association: “Free cheese is found only in a mousetrap.”

The cheese is everywhere. But where is the trap? The mousetrap is clear as day to IT security specialists. For more than 10 years they have been warning that free public network access to the Internet via Wi-Fi technology is unsafe. But no one in particular is listening.
“Connecting to the Internet via a public WiFi access point is a direct route to the loss of your usernames and private data” That was announced from the podium of an international conference on security in 2007!

“When you connect to the Internet via a free Wi-Fi all your traffic can be monitored both over the “air”, and via the router (the computer from which you connect to the Internet). This includes all your logins, passwords, credit card numbers, your correspondence and Web surfing history can be accesed by hackers or unscrupulous administrators of the WiFi access point.”
The general recommendation of experts is as follows: “Without a specific need don’t connect to the Internet via a public access point”. Pretty simple actually.

This is particularly good advice for people with children and teenagers. Free internet access via a hotspot at your local coffee shop -that’s awesome! Most access points of this kind do not include filters and can allow kids access to resources that would normally be closed on your home network.

But where else can you communicate with your friends in social networks when they are sitting right there with you at the table? It’s just so convenient.

And then our “dear child” comes home and quickly connects to your home network with all the malware (Viruses and Trojans and Worms, oh my) that he has caught earlier at the cafe without even knowing it.

In short, there is cause for concern and it makes perfect sense for parents to take some time to consider the IT security of the family network.

The mousetrap is set, the cheese is waiting. Let’s not get caught!
Do your homework and read on the Internet and on our website about how to protect your family if you need to connect to public Wi-Fi.