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Phuket Tech Talk: WiFi Security vs Convenience

Central Festival recently announced it was giving shoppers free Wi-Fi access, and that using it would be ‘hassle-free’.

By Byron Noel

Monday 2 December 2013, 04:58PM


Though many individual stalls already offer this service, this marks the first time that all members of the public will have access to complimentary internet around the mall.

I decided to test it and see, first-hand, what kind of service the mall’s visitors would receive.

The first step, after managing to find the information booth, was signing up. I was a bit surprised that passports, or ID cards, were needed in order to register.

The signing up process took a few minutes as the friendly lady gave my girlfriend and I our log-in information.

After that, a leisurely stroll around the first floor found most of the areas well-covered, with the strongest signal around the information desk and food court area.

The second floor is supposed to have signal as well, but I could only manage a connection by holding the device over the central court. When we did get signal, the connection was fast enough for average browsing, messaging and social apps.

The Ookla Speed Test app on both devices (smartphone and tablet) gave us a relatively strong 1Mbps download speed, with a similar upload speed.

However, this was relatively close to opening time and the system did slow a little as the mall filled up over the next three hours.

All in all, not completely hassle free, but still a welcome addition to the services already on offer at Central Festival.

To be honest, no-one should have trouble connecting to the internet while in Phuket. There is simply so much free Wi-Fi on offer.

Some may have already noticed that the TOT offers Wi-Fi in many public areas around Phuket though its ICT Free Wi-Fi campaign.

This is all great, until you consider just how unsafe these networks are.

In the last year, we have seen a sharp increase in cyber fraud, committed through information being stolen from devices or by coaxing it from the user.

Where you connect can be just as important as how you connect. Free and public Wi-Fi is inherently dangerous because you never know who else is on the network, trying to steal your information. You would be surprised at how easily it can be done.

Luckily, it can also be easily avoided by downloading a free security application for your device, or a programme for your PC.

So what to download? For an Android device I would suggest the free ‘360 Mobile Security’ app; for iOS devices ‘Lookout’ provides a nice package, with a trial period before you have to pay anything.

For the PC; the options are endless but I would suggest the security suites from either Commodo, AVG, Avira or Norton, all of which can easily be found through an internet search.

Experienced users can stick to the free options, but those who want to be looked after with minimal user input, should consider a full paid suite.

Considering how much personal information is stored on our personal devices there is no excuse for not having even the most basic security.

Still we must remember that the greatest security risk, in any system, is always the user. Most digital fraud is still committed by bogus calls, emails and messages that pry information from the user. One must always be skeptical when asked for sensitive information.

Now, if you would all kindly email me your credit card details; I have a Malaysian businessman that needs your help, specifically, getting his millions out of the country... 

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