Why Getting Online at Your Local Coffee Shop May Not be Safe

Why Getting Online at Your Local Coffee Shop May Not be Safe. image iPhone Coffee ShopWhy getting online at your local coffee shop may not be safe.

If you’re like me, whenever you’re at a coffee shop, or anyplace else that offers free WiFi, you probably take advantage of that and connect your phone. While the free WiFi isn’t always faster than my 4G cell phone service, connecting to WiFi makes sure I don’t impact my cell phone plan’s data quota, and some apps and downloads will only work on WiFi. So what’s the problem?

Privacy.

When you connect any device to a WiFi, you’re connecting your system to that network, and potentially making your system visible and vulnerable to other devices on the same network. I won’t bore you with the technical details of how that can happen, but the fact is, it’s a possibility.

As we use our smart phones for more and more tasks and activities, this privacy issue is becoming of greater concern. I use my iPhone for a lot more than just browsing the Internet. There’s no way I want anyone else to have access to the information on my phone or for them to be able to monitor what I do at any given moment.

This should be of particular concern to business owners. Sales people are out having meetings in their local Starbucks and their phones might contain valuable client contact information, project documents, and other business data that must be protected.

Facebook is reporting more mobile users than web users, and of course Apple is working hard to put a smartphone in the hands of every person on the planet. Mobile security and privacy is a large and growing issue.

Fortunately, I found a cool app that can help! It’s called HotSpot Shield for iOS [iTunes link] (there’s a version for your laptop too). What this app does is automatically encrypt your connection to WiFi so that your information and activity is far more secure.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Image courtesy of Adam Tinworth, Flickr.

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