Everyone does it. You are traveling somewhere, or you just moved into a new area, or you are waiting at the coffee shop for your car to be fixed and you come across an unencrypted wireless network. Lots of businesses set up hotspots and maintain them for the very purpose of inviting people to use the internet while they are in the area. Secure WiFi connections are not the biggest concern in their life.
Some people just forget to password protect their wireless router. You need to satisfy an incredible urge to check to see if you sold that last textbook so you go ahead and log onto it...just for a minute.
In most cases it may have been a little bit exciting to flirt with an unknown signal, your heart may have pounded just a little bit faster for a moment. But your unsafe and unsecure wifi connection was otherwise very mundane and you didn't do anything very adventuresome while furtively exchanging information. It was quick, satisfying, and this time there were no lasting negative effects.
Risk of Not Using a Secure Wifi Connection
You may already be aware of the need to safely surf the from a public wireless network. There are significant risks involved if you don't. Whoever has access to that network can gain access to your computer and any of the information that you send over the network.
Another person with access to that network might be able to route your traffic through their computer and then through the network, called a man in the middle attack. It is unsophisticated and easy to do, therefore it is very likely to happen. Things like logging into email, online banking and anything else that might require you to use a password are the most risky things to try on an unencrypted wifi connection. The risk of being snooped at a public WiFi spot is much higher than an average person who would want to use anonymous browsing.
The Google maps vehicles have also been known to gather information about users of wifi hotspots as they pass through them, although I'm sure they already had most of that information anyways.
On some occasions, this kind of network infidelity can lead to a minor irritation of captured personal information which fills the transactional databases of the hotspot host in this surveillance society, and in some cases can lead to a serious loss of data security, virus, or identity theft.
How to Setup A Secure Wireless Connection
So what can you do to protect yourself when casually connecting to inviting wifi hotspots? Set up a secure wifi connection to you own home router or your own secure server through an SSH tunnel. This shield will protect you while using any public wifi connection and keep your surfing safe and secure.
Don't give up a faithful relationship with your secure internet connection to satisfy a nagging urge while you are not at home. Practice safe surfing habits by using an SSH tunnel to connect to the internet when you are using a wifi hotspot, hotel network or other internet service connection open to the public. This will help you with protecting your IP address, your anonymous web surfing or to transfer big files securely from public places. You can create a comprehensive privacy strategy using the book How To Vanish.