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Using public Wi-Fi during Masters Week? Think twice.

After spending a day at Augusta National without their phones, Masters patrons walking out the gates are probably ready to look at social media, share private information with friends and family and check their bank accounts.

But they should think twice before doing all that while connected to public Wi-Fi.

“At a sporting event, or other event where there is a high concentration of people, the attacker has many potential targets,” said Dr. Michael Nowatkowski, associate professor of information security at Augusta University.

Cybercriminals often create public Wi-Fi networks with a legitimate name, tricking people into connecting to it and exposing personal information.

For people who have already connected to legitimate public Wi-Fi networks in Augusta and set their devices to automatically connect to them in the future, their information may also be in danger. Cyber criminals can create fake networks with the same name and trick people’s devices into connecting to the spoofed networks automatically.

“It is good practice to ‘forget’ public WiFi networks when you finish using them,” Nowatkowski said.

If you are in Augusta during Masters Week, Nowatkowski offers the following tips to keep your mobile devices safe:

  • Don’t use free or public WiFi for any sensitive information exchanges, such as banking, shopping and sending personal information. Free WiFi is generally okay to browse the Internet for news and weather, for example. For sensitive transactions, you are much safer using the mobile data network, such as 3G, 4G and LTE.
  • Install and update anti-virus and anti-malware applications on your mobile devices.
  • Don’t apply any updates while connected to public WiFi because hackers can include malicious software in updates.
  • Turn off connections when you aren’t actively using them. This includes WiFi, Bluetooth, file sharing, and air drop.
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About the author

Arthur Takahashi

Arthur Takahashi is Digital Media Coordinator at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706–446–5128 or atakahashi@augusta.edu.