Tip of the month October 2016 – Stay safer on Wifi

In today’s World, we want to be “always on” connected to the internet for topics like the latest news or social media posts from friends and family. This “need” to be connected leads us to actively seek out Wifi connections for our devices to connect to.

This feeling will be multiplied for seafarers who have slow limited or expensive access to the internet while at sea for days to weeks at a time. As soon as you reach port you search for open port wifi or seek out public wifi/internet cafes to get back in touch.

Unfortunately this nature is well known by hackers and so they will use this against you by creatingrogue wifi networks, or compromising public wifi hotspots. This allows them to carry out attacks such as Man In The Middle, whereby all your browsing goes via their machine allowing them to capture your usernames, passwords , credit card details and anything else you browse while online.

They may also compromise your machine by installing malicious remote access software on your system for accessing it whenever they like in future.

So this months tip is 10 points on how to stay safer on wifi.

1 – Use Secure WIFI where possible

Password protected networks with WPA2 or WPA encryption are your most secure option, compared to completely open networks.  If that’s not available, your cellular data connection is far more secure than open public Wi-Fi, so you should use your mobile device as your own hotspot. Consider obtaining a local SIM card to access data services at a better rate if roaming charges cost too much.

2 – Be smart about what you connect to

Ask someone who works at the venue for the name of their Wi-Fi network so you can be sure you’re connecting to a legitimate service, and not a malicious hotspot with a “spoofed” name created by hackers in order to trick you. Bearing in mind it is possible to have multiple Wifi networks with the same name, but most cafes or smaller locations only have a single access point, so multiple same names could spell trouble.

3 – Take care when paying for Wifi access

Avoid paying for Wi-Fi hotspot access, or pay with an electronic option such as PayPal, Apple Pay, orGoogle Wallet with limited funds/access to prevent hackers from stealing your credit card information.

4 – Look for the lock symbol

The Lock symbol indicates your connection to the website is encrypted, which is an important step in safeguarding the privacy and security of the information you send out to the Internet. However consider that fake sites/domains can also have SSL secured certificates installed.

5 – Keep your device up-to-date

Outdated software contains security vulnerabilities that malware and hackers can exploit. Keep your device operating system, web browsers, applications, and security software up to date to minimize your risk of being hacked.

6 – Turn off file and remote access

Minimize the ways hackers can gain access to your system by turning off features like file sharing and remote access. Use them only when you’re connected to your trusted home or business network.

7 – Use a VPN service

A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a very simple tool for securing your information with encryption—and then forwarding it to a secure server before it goes out to the Internet. Encryption with a VPN means that even if you join a malicious wireless network, the attackers can’t see or modify your private information.

8 – Disable wifi & automatic connections when not in use

Turn off the feature on your mobile device or laptop that automatically connects to known networks. This reduces the risk of connecting to a malicious network without your consent. You should also turn off Bluetooth to avoid those kind of attacks.

9 – Run a decent Antivirus/malware tool

Whether a PC, Laptop or mobile device. Ensure you have a up-to-date Antivirus/malware tool installed. For Android a tool such as Sophos Mobile security and for IOS a tool like Lookout.

10 – Do I really need to do?

When on public Wifi, always ask yourself. Do I really need to pay xx today, potentially exposing my bank account/credit card details? Do I really need to login to xx system to access company data? What would happen if I am on a compromised network and expose xx  personal details or company information?


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