Not only has Sochi been under fire for its rough, icy routes during this year’s Winter Olympics, but it’s also been scrutinized as a playing field for hackers, terrorist attacks and beyond. For large events such as the Olympics and the Super Bowl, security is always a risk. Connecting to insecure, public WiFi networks can subject even the most cautious of Internet users with a chance to be hacked – to have your personal information stripped from you and your online identity compromised.
In light of the Sochi Winter Games, it seems timely to take a look at some easy steps individuals can take to secure and protect personal data when attending large-scale public events – or even when walking through an airport. It never hurts to take extra precautions!
- Don’t store or access personal data using public WiFi. Need to check your flight? Order a song on iTunes? Access your email? It can wait. Accessing personal data when connected to public WiFi is about the same as opening your front door for a burglar, and I’m guessing you wouldn’t do that, either. Hold off on making any personal transactions until you’re connected to a secure network.
- Don’t trust others with your security. Just because the network is Olympic-sanctioned doesn’t mean that it’s going to protect your device. Take control of your personal security and keep firewalls and other software updated as necessary. Your personal security should be your number one priority – don’t assume someone else is taking an interest in protecting you.
- Treat passwords as a requirement. Sure, we’ve seen a lot of buzz about whether or not the password is “dead” over the past year, but one thing is certain – it’s not hurting you to password-protect your device. It doesn’t take much time on your part, and in the long run, it can help protect you from having your device easily hacked.
- Avoid free public WiFi. While connecting to free public WiFi may be a tempting offer when you’re out and about, connecting to free WiFi at an airport or in your hotel lobby is one of the many mistakes that hackers are just waiting for you to make, as doing so can make you easily susceptible to attack.
- Act like you’re in public. Avoid typing anything personal, confidential, or sensitive on your device while you’re at a large event. I think to think of it like this: if I wouldn’t shout it out loud, I won’t say it on my device. That email to your HR manager about your health insurance can wait – so can the note to your significant other with your flight information. Stick to the basics, and treat your device as if you won’t be using it again. If your device falls into the wrong hands, you don’t want to make it too easy for thieves to compromise your identity by leveraging personal information you may have stored on your device.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry when accessing networks at these large public events. Remember the above tips when you’re at your next concert, MLB game, or hey – maybe when you’re in Rio for the summer Olympics in 2016.
Have any thoughts or comments to share? Get the conversation going by leaving a comment on my blog, or tweet to me at @PennyRBaldwin.