What can you do to prevent unauthorized access to your child’s data in this way? First and foremost, the user should never have inappropriate info on a smartphone. If you do have this, you are a target for such theft. However, if you can’t help yourself, at least ask the manager of the establishment for the correct SSID.
However, consider these statistics:
According to the Internet Watch Foundation, 88% of inappropriate images find their way into the hands of those for whom they were not intended.
How does this happen? Often through hacks.
Additionally, never do important banking using public Wi-Fi. Although you are most likely not being hacked, it’s best to do these things on networks that you know are secure.
Keep your smartphone and tablet’s operating system updated. By doing so, you minimize your vulnerability to such attacks.
Consider using a VPN when doing anything outside of your network. Even then, it can help you circumvent privacy issues.
As Adi Sharabani, the co-founder of mobile security company Skycure, told CNBC’s Jennifer Schlesinger in her 2016 article:
Your smartphone could be hacked without your knowledge.
“At the end of the day, everything is hackable. What I am surprised about is that people sometimes forget that it’s so easy to hack into these devices.”
As we have discovered in our own research, any Wi-Fi used at such places as airports, cafes, and restaurants can be unsecured, allowing the bad guy to view everything on your device while connected.
OK, you’ve got everything locked down at home. You know all of the passwords for every device in the house. You’ve secured the iTunes and Google Play stores and are running every filter known to man. You’re good, right?
Well… Recently, Opera, the web browser developed by Opera Software announced it would add a free VPN service to its latest version. This press release created a flood of questions about online privacy, VPNs and proxy servers.
What? You actually work for a living and are raising three kids who play sports, are on a dance team, and twice a week you need to drive them to tuba practice? Now you need to be even more vigilant? No worries. We’ve got your back!
What are VPNs?
VPNs, or virtual private networks, provide an added level of security when you’re surfing the web using one of the top browsers. For example: If you’re using a Mac, iPhone or iPad, you are probably using the default browser called Safari.
If you’re using an Android device, you’re probably using Chrome.
Windows laptops and desktops generally use Explorer or its newest iteration named Edge.
And still, others might be using Mozilla’s Firefox or Amazon’s Silk.
All could, to some extent, provide surfing privacy.
Safari, Firefox and Amazon’s Silk, privacy features are called ‘Private Browsing’.
In Google Chrome it’s called Incognito.
Explorer/Edge refers to this feature as InPrivate Browsing.
Opera not-so creatively refers to theirs as Private Tab / Private Window.
In essence, each one attempts to provide some level of privacy from advertisers and others interested in knowing your browsing information.
But hey! You don’t want anyone sniffing around your digital world without a search warrant unless they’re also carrying a gift card to Starbucks. What are your options? The answer very well might be the use of a VPN or perhaps a proxy server.
There are hundreds of VPNs from which to select. Some are free. Some charge a subscription fee. However, for this conversation, we’ll address some of your free options.
As we mentioned, if you adopt the Opera browser on your laptop or desktop, you’ll have a free VPN service. This allows you to surf the web without too much concern from snoopers. You can also access the foreign versions of services such as Netflix. However, this same technology also allows your child to circumvent some of the controls you’ve placed on your network.
For now, the service will only work on a laptop or desktop. However, future versions will be available for mobile devices.
Firefox offers the Hola or Hola Unblocker as a free VPN service.
However, I’ve often had issues when adding certain plugins on Firefox. Although Firefox supposedly checks each plugin they offer, I have found them to sometimes have issues.
Google’s Chrome allows Hola and other VPN services such as BetterNet. BetterNet is considered a quality service with an excellent reputation.
Both Hola and BetterNet are available for mobile devices as well. Most VPNs provide some great features, such as:
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits is the protection they provide when using public Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots are often used by hackers searching for private data. VPNs can minimize the chance of a hacker accessing your information.
Hiding IP addresses by masking a user’s IP address with a virtual IP address. The result? It makes it more difficult for the sites you visit to track you.
Unblocking firewalls and websites. In this case, the VPN allows users to bypass blocked sites by circumventing the network. This has been a huge issue for school networks.
In essence, VPNs help to maintain your private communication by hiding your digital sessions from criminal elements. Or if you’re a criminal, it can hide your activity from law enforcement!
VPNs are the equivalent of placing a small hose inside a larger hose. Both hoses are streaming water in the same direction, across the same property. However, the smaller stream is shielded from mixing with the other data.
In the case of your VPN protected data, it is not easily viewed by others on the same network.
However, don’t be fooled into a false sense of security when using VPNs or proxy servers. Gold Frog wrote an excellent article a year or so ago when they did a detailed analysis of such strategies.
Any of these approaches should be used only as a safeguard against your private information being stolen. However, no system is perfect. No system is impenetrable from someone that knows what they’re doing.
For a quick overview of how VPN’s work, we’ve provided this brief video.