Tag Archive for: Free WiFi

A Breakup Letter to Bad Cybersecurity Habits (Featuring Makayla Sileo)

Bad Cybersecurity Habits - Sileo

Cybersecurity habits are a lot like dating – you have to weed out the bad to make room for the good. As we approach National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and my busiest speaking season, my radically creative daughter Makayla (💜) wrote a series of Breakup Letters to all of the bad cybersecurity habits that lead to huge organizational losses and reputational damage. To help protect yourself and your business, here are a few Breakup Letter Beginnings (and my suggestions on how to change the relationship) to get you started: 

Dear Guessable Passwords (Easy Love)

It’s not you, it’s me. I can’t keep blaming you for my mistakes. I was seduced by your simplicity, lured into a false sense of security. Plus, I just love using my puppy’s name as my passcode! You were predictable and I thought I wanted that. But in all honesty, I know now that I am the problem. Starting today, I will make the effort to create long and strong passwords using a password manager to keep cyber criminals out of the middle of our private data.  My newfound confidence will end in better relationships for both of us. So long. 

Dear Re-Used Passcodes (Predictable Love)

I feel like our relationship is lacking the spark it used to have. We both deserve better. I’m looking for a more complex interaction, one that challenges me. So I am leaving you, same-ol, same-ol passphrase, for two-step logins, which will keep even the craftiest of hackers out of the middle of my private relationships. Now that’s what I call a spicy upgrade! Au revoir. 

Dear Phishing Links (Manipulative Love)

I was intrigued by all that you had to offer. I got lost in your charm and smooth ways. I should’ve listened to my gut that screamed “Bad news! Do not engage!” Your calls are the “u up?” texts that I can’t stop answering. You’ve found sneaky ways to get me to pick up and open up and then you use my vulnerabilities against me. I’m done playing your phishy little games. Starting today, I will only engage with links, attachments, and requests that I trust deeply and am expecting. Consider yourself off the hook! 

Dear Free WiFi Hotspots (Convenient Love)

I thought you would always be there for me when I needed you most. I was a romantic once, assuming our connection was a safe one. I can see now that I deserve a partner I can trust over simple convenience. I’m ready to settle down with a soulmate who communicates in safe ways, like using the cellular data connection on our smartphones or demanding that we protect our interests by installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on all of our devices. Over and out, Hotty. 

Dear Eavesdropping Smart Devices (Clingy Love),

I think it’s time I go out on my own. Your constant tracking and sharing of my every move and desire has crossed the line. Our connection–once filled with convenience–has become suffocating and invasive. I am reclaiming my freedom. Am I scared to find my way in a world without you? Yes. But I know I am safer navigating life on my own than being stalked by you. Going forward, I promise to actually be smart about how I connect smart devices to the Internet, to change my privacy and security defaults and to limit location and behavior sharing on devices like my smartphone. This, my love, is where I go dark. Night, night.

Dear Gratuitous Social Media Sharing (PDA Love)

Enough with the public displays of affection. I don’t want the general public knowing every detail of my personal life. It’s become too unsettling knowing that nothing is private anymore. If I want to share my triumphs and defeats, I will communicate with you directly, via text, email, or private DMs. You deserve my full integrity, so I am limiting what I share. Duck face no more.

Dear Neglected Software Updates (Missed Love),  

Our relationship has been a rollercoaster of missed opportunities. You–with your security patches and bug fixes–always doing your best to make my life better, while I foolishly ignored your messages. I should’ve known you were there the whole time. Please give me a second chance… I promise to upgrade my software every chance I get from today forward. Because our relationship is all about growth and evolution. Please take me back. 


Looking for a creative way to engage your audience to care more about cybersecurity and breakup with their bad cybersecurity habits? Call us directly to learn how John will humorously update your crowd on the latest cyber threats and simple solutions. Call 303.777.3221 or fill out our Contact Form to connect with Sue Bob Dean (yes, that’s a joke), John’s business manager extraordinaire.

John Sileo is a Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker who educates audiences on how cybersecurity has evolved and how they can remain ahead of trends in cybercrime. He is proud to have spoken at the Pentagon and Amazon, written four books on cybersecurity, and been inducted into the National Speakers Hall of Fame. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, NBC, ABC, Fox, CNN, Rachael Ray, and Anderson Cooper. John’s work has been quoted and published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Kiplinger’s. But John is most proud of being an unforgiving helicopter dad to his two daughters, Sophie and Makayla. 

Gladys Kravitz is Sniffing FREE WiFi Hotspots for Your Secrets

The free WiFi hotspot ritual is habitual. You head to your favorite café to get some work done “away from the office”. Justifying your $4 cup of 50 cent coffee with a Starbucks-approved rationalization (“I work so much more efficiently at my 3rd spot!”), you flip open your laptop, link to the free WiFi and get down to business. The caffeine primes your creativity, the  bustling noise provides a canvass backdrop for your artful work and the hyper-convenient Internet access makes it easy for someone else (think organized criminal) to intercept everything you send through the air.

At the table next to you, drinking a free glass of water (these guys are too smart to pay that price for a cuppa joe), sits a hacker running a piece of software that sniffs the data you send over the free (unprotected) WiFi. They watch your private data like Gladys Kravitz stalking the very bewitching and often nose-wriggling Samantha. When you log in to your webmail account, they record your username (usually your email address) and password. Since you use the same password for many different websites, they run an automated computer program that attempts to log into every bank in the world using that username and password. When it fails, the program automatically increments your email password in every way possible until it eventually cracks your banking code.

By the time you head for a latte refill, you can no longer afford it. (This is one effective way to break the Starbucks habit). Most of us have been well trained to unthinkingly connect to the FREE WiFi hotspot at cafés, airports and hotels. Wireless technology is both useful and powerful, but operating it without protection is like skydiving with a parachute that you never deploy (it’s a fun ride while it lasts…). If you connect to any WiFi hotspot without first having to log in with a unique username and password, there is nothing that masks your data as it travels through the air. (Watch the 9News Investigation Video with Jeremy Jojola for a sample).

How to use a free WiFi hotspot without crash landing

Like our previously mentioned skydiver, you want not only to put on your parachute before you jump, but to pull the cord before you taste dirt. Here are some simple steps you can take, along with a “How To” video, before you jump on your next free WiFi hotspot:

  1. HTTPS Surfing. If you absolutely must use the free WiFi hotspot, only exchange information over websites with encrypted connections. What’s an encrypted connection and how can you tell? Watch this short video to learn how to tell if you are on a safe, https internet connection. If you are, all of the data that goes between your device and the WiFi hotspot (and eventually onto the Internet), is scrambled and protected by a passcode (the encryption part) that makes it much harder to intercept. Banks (see video), Gmail and even Facebook (see video) offer HTTPS connections. Sometimes all you have to do on a website is to change your security defaults! If your connection is regular old http (no “s” at the end), just know that your data can be free for all to see (if they have the right tools).
  2. Tethering. Also known as a personal WiFi hotspot, tethering is the act of using your smartphone’s encrypted cellular connection to the Internet to surf securely from your mobile device. Tethering works for laptops, tablets and iPods and is relatively simple and inexpensive to use. To tether your computing device to your smartphone, simply contact your mobile provider (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc.) and let them know that you want to be able to connect your computing device to your smartphone (you want to tether). They will let you know that it costs about $15 per month (well worth the protection), will turn it on and will walk you through setting up both your smartphone and device so that they communicate with the Internet in a well-protected manner. Note: Many tablets, like the iPad, now come with cellular data access built into the device. So, for example, if you have an iPad with Wireless + Cellular capability, you can almost always connect via your cellular connection (just like your phone connects) and never even have to utilize free WiFi (though it’s still safe to use the secure Wifi in your home and office). You can do the same thing by accessing the Internet via your smartphone that is NOT connected to WiFi. Cellular surfing can be a bit slower, but it is considerably more private.
  3. VPN Software. Using a VPN (or virtual private network software), is a safer way to surf on free WiFi. Think of it like this: it takes the same protections you get when using an https connection and applies them to all of the URLs you visit. VPNs are standard gear for business users, but individuals need them just as much as corporations. One of the more popular VPNs for consumer use is Hotspot Shield VPN (this is not an educated endorsement of the product, just an example). The good part about a VPN is that it protects your data transmissions over the internet at all times, not just when using free WiFi.

Better yet, utilize all three solutions and find yourself 100% safer than the Frappuccino lover over at the next table. Mobile computing will increase your productivity, your connectivity and your flexibility. But to do it without a bit of security preparation is to court digital suicide.

John Sileo not only uses free WiFi hotspots (wisely), he is an internationally recognized keynote speaker on how to keep your employees from making poor data security decisions regarding identity, privacy and reputation protection. His happy clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Visa, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.  Tyler Tobin, the CEO and Chief Hacker for Tobin & Associates LLC, is a world renowned Professional White Hat Hacker. His firm specializes in performing compliance, GLBA and full-blown security assessments. His customer base is both regional and global. Assessments include social engineering, external and internal vulnerability and penetration testing and compliance examinations (SEC, SOX, SSAE and GLBA).