AAA projects that 46.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during Thanksgiving weekend, the highest level since 2007. While traveling, it is likely that we make use of free Wifi in the airport, hotel lobby, or the coffee shop and will do some shopping online.

An estimated 3.4 million people more than last year will be shopping online during this holiday shopping season. A National Retail Federation (NRF) 2014 survey says that a record high, 56 percent of shoppers plan to make online purchases—up from 51.5 percent in 2013. Using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, online shoppers will pay out 16 percent more than other shoppers this year, spending and average of $931.75 on gifts, decorations, food, etc. Hackers know this is the big season, and due to the many breaches in retail and banking, and the recent discovery of operating system vulnerabilities, there are lots of opportunities to make money.

Using our own devices for a combination of work and personal transactions is the norm. We are so busy with the task at hand that it doesn’t occur to us that someone at the next table may be waiting for us to give them access. In public places, cyber criminals position themselves between your computer and the unsecured free wireless connection point so they can intercept information; even hackers hangout at the local Starbucks. Through this they can steal credit card numbers, email, website and company log-in credentials. They can also download malware on to a computer by offering a bogus update for commonly used software. If we accept the update, we have introduced an often undetectable piece of malicious software.

Free Wifi is everywhere, and can be a godsend when we want to work while traveling or avoid massive crowds while shopping online for the holidays. There are a few ways we can protect ourselves before we use public Wifi:

• First of all, disable WifI if you don’t need it. Our devices are set to search for networks by default, and if you’re working on local software for word processing or spreadsheets, you don’t need it. Also, turn off sharing in your system preferences or control panel.

• Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to your business. It will encrypt your data and make it very difficult for hackers to translate your information. Hackers are humans too, so they will willingly move onto an easier target.

• If you don’t have access to a VPN, you can go to your settings and select “always use HTTPS” to secure your log in credentials for frequently used websites.

Multi-tasking remotely with several devices is business-as-usual today. Most IT departments are aware of threats to internal networks and have precautions in place, but the more we know about how we can help prevent intrusions the better.

A comprehensive security system includes user education, human analysis of possible threats to sensitive information, and constantly updated automated intelligence. With a team of experts on duty 24/7, EdgeWave can prevent exploits from compromising networks across all devices with access. Visit to learn more.