Winning the wi-fi game

Last year, during Super Bowl LIII, over 24 terabytes of data was transferred by more than 38K users within Mercedes-Benz stadium. That is a 47% increase from the year before; the equivalent of 28 million selfies, 4.8 million songs, and 960 days of touchdown dance videos. According to Extreme Networks, the official wi-fi solutions provider for the Super Bowl, fans typically use the wifi for taking photos and videos, live streaming the match, video calling friends and family and placing bets on their FanDuel sportsbook. Last year these fans were streaming and engaging in record numbers, and expectations for the 2020 event are even higher.

With all that public network streaming, the risk of identity and financial theft throughout the experience will be at an all-time high; an opportunity cybercriminals won’t be able to resist. And while hackers probably won’t be too interested in your selfies, entertainment apps and streaming sites are an easy entry point to dig in and harvest more sensitive information.

“Whereas public wi-fi is a convenience enjoyed by many, everyone MUST assume that ALL public wifi networks are insecure,” shares ID’s CTO and SVP of Forensics and Investigations, Joe Martinez. “Using a VPN or proxy app on your smart device is the only way to ensure you are as protected as possible when accessing the Wild West that is public wi-fi access.”

Whether you’re attending the game at or hanging out at a local bar, take note of a few of these tips from Wired.com to help keep your security at the top of its game:

  • Stick With HTTPS: Google Chrome lets you know when the site you’re visiting uses an unencrypted HTTP connection rather than an encrypted HTTPS connection by labeling the former “Not Secure.” That’s a warning that shouldn’t be ignored, especially on public Wi-Fi. When you browse over HTTPS, the data traveling between you and the website server is not visible to people on the same Wi-Fi network as you, making it more difficult to steal.
  • Don’t Give Away Too Much Info: Be very wary of signing up for public Wi-Fi access if you’re getting asked for a bunch of personal details, like your email address or your phone number. If you have no choice but to connect to networks like this, stick to places you trust and consider using an alternative email address that isn’t your primary one.
  • Read the fine print: Before you select “accept,” read up on the attached terms and conditions for the public Wi-Fi connection. While it might be a standard terms and conditions document, scanning for red flags, You might not always understand every word, but you should be able to spot any major red flags, particularly around what kind of data they’re collecting from your session, and what they’re doing with it.
  • Minimize your connections: The more networks you connect to, the more likely the chances that you’ll stumble across one that isn’t treating your data and browsing as carefully as it should be.
  • Limit AirDrop and File Sharing: While on a public network, turn off frictionless file sharing on your devices. While you might think your new buddy is sending you the picture he just snapped of you and your friends, he could very well be sending you a malware headache.   

While some of these tips may seem obvious, it’s easy to forget the basics, but if in doubt, maybe it’s best to power down, sit back, and enjoy the game.

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