For many major retailers, Wednesday is the deadline to place last-minute holiday orders online and have them delivered in time for Christmas. But you’ll want to think twice before clicking buy over public Wi-Fi.
Cyber security experts told News 4 anyone can download software or apps and learn how to do hack your information, including emails, passwords and credit card information. Hackers can even see what you’re pulling up on your phone in real time.
Jules White, a computer science professor at Vanderbilt University, showed News 4 how easy it is, especially when using public Wi-Fi.
“It’s like eavesdropping on somebody at the table next to you,” White said. “So they may not control you physically, they may not have kidnapped you, but they can still hear what you’re saying.”
White used his phone to go to WSMV’s website, then he pulled up everything his phone showed regarding internet activity.
“You can imagine that if this was your banking website, they can actually go in and look at all of this data and pick out your password, pick out your username and other things like that,” White said.
It makes you rethink the last time you browsed for gifts using Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or restaurant.
“When you’re buying Christmas presents this season, you might go out to each of these websites and they’ll ask you to create an account at the end and you end up using the same password over and over,” White said.
That makes it easy for hackers to steal your information. So change your passwords often and make them long and complex.
“If that website ever gets hacked, that means not only have the attackers got your password for that website but every single other password where you’ve used it,” White said.
If you’re worried about your information potentially being at risk, you can check haveibeenpwned.com, and type in your emails or usernames. You can also use two-factor authentication for email and other accounts to try and prevent access to your accounts if they become compromised. Some websites even support a “hardware key” that plugs into a computer and acts as an authentication device when you log in.
Password managers are also useful tools if you have trouble remembering those difficult passwords on multiple websites.