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Avoid shopping online from public Wi-Fi hotspots

12 March 2014 - 11:52 by Mike Price

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A web security expert from Europol has spoken out about the risks associated with using Wi-Fi hotspots that are open to the public, according to BBC News.

Troel Oerting heads up the agency's cybercrime department and the main implication is that if you want to carry out safe shopping online, you should avoid accessing your favourite e-commerce sites from public Wi-Fi connections.

Of course, many people in the UK will have done this in the past because the growth in smartphone and tablet usage has made it convenient to shop while on the move.

While connecting to the web and making purchases over a 3G or 4G data connection is relatively safe, public Wi-Fi solutions are easy to exploit and hackers can steal login information and personal details if you shop online through this channel.

Identity theft is still a prevalent problem, says Oerting, so consumers need to be vigilant and make it difficult for the cybercriminals to get at their private data.

The most secure ways to shop online are either by using your home Wi-Fi network, which should be secured with a password or key, or to shop from a desktop computer that is connected directly via an Ethernet cable.

Wi-Fi hotspots at cafes, businesses and even on public transport can be compromised by hackers and used to leech info from anyone who uses them.

If you start a shopping session, check your emails or log into a social network site while using a public hotspot, there is always a chance that your details will be stolen and used for nefarious purposes.

Staying safe online need not be tricky as long as you have the right information, so it is good that experts are so willing to pass on their knowledge.