How to Stay Safe Using Public WiFi

As more consumers and businesses alike embrace the on-the-go mentality, finding a public WiFi hotspot is easier now than ever before. While there are plenty of hotspots available – about 362 million to be exact – remember that not every hotspot is trustworthy. Be sure you’re staying safe while using public WiFi with the following tips from Computer Troubleshooters.

5 Tips for Safely Using Public WiFi

Using public WiFi is a quick and often free way to browse the web without eating away at your data plan, but it’s important to remain mindful when connecting to these networks.

  1. Choose Wisely

It’s likely your local coffee shop, grocery store, and even your gym have public WiFi networks available for guests. While hopping on these networks during your visits can often be perfectly safe, be wary when visiting less-established locations. Before choosing a network to connect to, it’s wise to think twice about your location. For example, a public WiFi hotspot is likely safer at an established store such as Barnes and Noble than in a shopping mall with tons of available networks you don’t recognize. It’s true that no public WiFi is completely secure, but choosing wisely and trusting your judgment are always good tips to remember.

  1. Limit Your Actions Online

After you’ve found a trustworthy network, be mindful about what you do once you’re browsing the web. Checking your social media or reading news articles are generally safe activities, but you should never access your bank account or other personal information in public. In the occasion that your network is not as secure as you presumed, your most private information could be left vulnerable to a cyberattack.

  1. Visit Secure Sites

While you’re using public WiFi, it’s also a great practice to make sure you’re only visiting sites with encrypted connections. An encrypted connection is more secure than an unencrypted page and makes spying on your web activity much more difficult for potential hackers. To easily spot an encrypted site, check for, “HTTPS://” before any link in the URL search bar. An unencrypted site can be identified by displaying, “HTTP://” before the following URL.

  1. Disable Auto Connect

For convenience purposes, our cell phones come with many automated features. However, users often don’t realize all of the data that’s being shared without their knowledge. To avoid automatically connecting to a WiFi network, and perhaps an unsecure one, disable the auto connect feature on your device. If you’d like to disable connecting to a specific network altogether, tap the network on your device and select, “Forget This Network.”

  1. Use a VPN

One of the best ways to protect yourself online, both on public WiFi and your private network, is to utilize a virtual private network (VPN). When using a VPN, your traffic is routed through an encrypted channel owned by the VPN company. With your traffic protected, outsiders attempting to spy on your online activity won’t be able to access your location and other private details about your browsing. With the added security of a VPN, potential hackers will have a much harder time tracking your online movements and stealing your information. To learn more benefits of a VPN and how to pick the best one for you, visit PCMag.

When it comes to using public WiFi, you can never be too cautious. Consider adding these tips for more security or consult with Rethink Tech for additional cybersecurity practices.

The U.S. gets serious about handling Foreign Hackers

On April 1, 2015, President Obama’s put the smack down on foreign cyber hackers with the executive order “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.” Springfield Computer Repair experts Rethink Associates explain that this order allows the U.S. government to freeze the assets of any individual or organization that’s complicit in cyber attacks that threaten the country’s economic stability, national security and foreign policy. In addition, financial and travel sanctions will will be leveled against those who disrupt or hijack computer networks, steal trade secrets from American companies or steal personal information of American citizens for profit.

Why we Need the Executive Order

When he spoke with Medium earlier this month, Obama said that international cooperation, diplomacy and law enforcement simply haven’t been effective enough at deterring and punishing those who are responsible for the cyber attacks that the U.S. has experienced. The President stated, “… targeted sanctions, used judiciously, will give us a new and powerful way to go after the worst of the worst.”

Obama also discussed the need for the U.S. to to increase their efforts against foreign “bad actors” because “of weak or poorly enforced foreign laws, or because some governments are either unwilling or unable to crack down on those responsible.” The White House hopes that ultimately, the sanctions will help reduce the financial gains and increase the cost of malicious cyber activities.

What the Executive Order Means for You

The White House assures that the executive order will “in no way target the victims of cyber attacks, like people whose computers are unwittingly hijacked by botnets or hackers.” This means that if computer repair reveals that a foreign entity has used your computer for its malicious deeds and you were unaware of it, the government won’t hold you responsible. The administration hopes that this executive order will help Americans thrive in the increasingly dangerous digital world, promote the sharing of intelligence regarding cyber threats and mitigate these threats.

Whether you have questions about the new targeted sanctions or computer repair, Springfield & surrounding area residents should never hesitate to contact Rethink Associates. Call or stop by one of our shops to learn more about how we can help you protect your computer.

Sony Pictures Hack Highlights Importance of Cybersecurity

We live in an incredibly fast paced, digital world. These days, stories of companies being hacked are, unfortunately, commonplace. We have been hearing stories of major hacks against large corporations, retail chains and even banks, and most recently, Sony. News of the Sony hack might seem as just another breech. However, as the smoke clears, we find ever more evidence that the hack perpetrated on Sony Pictures on 11/24 was anything but usual. These types of attacks highlight the vital importance of maintaining top-notch cybersecurity and Rethink Associates is here with the details.

What Happened?

At approximately 11am, on Monday, November 24th, emails began circulating around to Sony Pictures employees, instructing them not to use their computers, corporate email accounts, or cell phone wifi access. As this news traveled it became evident hackers had seized an estimated 11,000 gigabytes of data, potentially including financial information, personal passwords, passport and visa info of cast and crew in addition to information about Sony’s IT systems. As Sony searched to identify the hackers, a flood of information had already hit the web, including the movies Mr. TurnerStill AliceFury, & Annie,  which have not yet been released in theatres. As the investigation into the leaked files continued, the details only became worse, turning up salary negotiations, medical information, & employee criminal background checks, in addition to the script for an unreleased pilot written by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan.

Sadly, this is  just the tip of the iceberg. At this point, the Sony Pictures hack is easily the worst corporate hack in all of recorded history.

How Can I Protect My Business?

Well, you can begin by not ticking off North Korea. Sony has speculated publicly that the hack might in fact be retaliation for the upcoming release of The Interview, a comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogan who  play characters who attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Of course, the odds that your business has threatened or offended the DPRK is obviously quite low, however, that doesn’t mean these kinds of attacks can't happen to you. If your cybersecurity isn’t currently being professionally monitored and updated, your business may have serious vulnerabilities you might not even know about.

Protect Your Business With Cybersecurity From Working Nets

At Rethink Associates, we know that handling the cybersecurity for your business while actually keeping that business running can seem impossible, especially in the daunting face of cyber-attacks against much larger businesses. Outsourcing your IT can give you peace of mind and allow you to take care of the things that are important for your company. Rethink Associates is a Republic based IT Service and Security company that services small businesses throughout SW Missouri. We’re always on top of emerging cybersecurity trends and threats so you don’t have to be.

To talk to someone about managed IT for your business, give us a call at (417) 334-6609. We’d be happy to assist you with your professional business networking needs.