Using free WiFi while shopping? UAE issues warning

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on April 11, 2021 | Last updated on April 11, 2021 at 09.49 am

Residents have been advised to maintain the privacy and security of their information.

The Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) has warned residents against using public Wi-Fi networks while shopping online, as it could expose shoppers to the risk of "hacking".

“Using public Wi-Fi to shop online while at public places is tremendously convenient but it might not be safe. So, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) instead or share data from your phone as a hotspot,” the ADDA said on Twitter.

Authorities explained that using Wi-Fi to shop online while in public places might be convenient to some people, but it is not safe because shoppers may be vulnerable to cyber attacks.

“Shoppers should make sure that the online shopping sites are safe and reliable before entering their credit card details to purchase products,” said the ADDA.

“The easiest way to identify if the website is secured, is to look for “https” at the beginning of a site’s address. If you don’t see the “s” at the end of “http,” then the site is not encrypted and your data might not be secure.”

The warnings are part of ADDA’s “cyber advice” to shoppers through its Twitter account.

In a separate tweet, residents have been advised to maintain the privacy and security of their information and to make sure that they read and understand the information security policies of the applications and sites with which they share their data.

Officials also highlighted the importance of protecting personal data by turning off the Bluetooth feature on the phone, and turning it on only when needed to connect to another device.

"Since many smartphones give the user the option to share the location of their phone, it is better to turn off this feature, as most phones have a Global Positioning System (GPS) that enables some applications to locate it," said the ADDA.

Last week, the authority warned shoppers against allowing online shopping platforms to save their credit card information, as it may lead to their details being stolen by fraudsters.

According to the ADDA, the best way to avoid the theft of their credit card details is to re-enter the information every time the person is making a payment for a new purchase. The authority said many websites prompt users to save credit card information for future purchases, which may put their personal or financial information at risk if the website’s data is breached.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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