The Coffee Shop Caper

public wifi

Hello everyone, Detective Cy here with a lesson on using Public WiFi hotspots safely!

While most teachers wouldn’t think much of submitting grades while at a local coffee shop, one such educator found out just how unsafe this practice could be. While at a Starbucks, a teacher used her laptop to connect to the public WiFi network named “Starbucks Guest WiFi”. Little did they know that this was a fake network set up by a hacker, the correct network was named “Starbuck’s Public WiFi.”

While the teacher had access to the internet and was able to upload grades onto the school server, the hacker was able to install malicious software onto her computer over the network. The software gave the hacker access to the school’s server, even after the teacher logged off. A few days later, the hacker was able to encrypt the school’s network.

After the school’s network was encrypted, the IT department investigated the faculty’s computers. They were able to track the encryption back to the laptop that logged onto a malicious WiFi network. The school was shut down for an entire week because of the encryption, which caused the township a great deal of stress and financial strain.

This easily could have been avoided by asking a Starbucks employee which WiFi network should be used. The teacher also could have used a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to help secure their laptop. At a minimum, they should have only visited websites with “https” in their URL and enabled firewalls.

Lessons Learned:

  • Do not login to unfamiliar and unsecure WiFi networks. Ask an employee which WiFi to use before connecting to a public network. 
  • VPNs can help protect your privacy while using a public WiFi network.
  • Only visit sites with “https” in the URL to ensure that the connection between your computer and the webpage is encrypted.
  • Enable the firewall on your computer.
  • Make sure that you have an antivirus installed and running.

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