It can be dangerous to look at any of your online financial information on these (public access) machines.
When writing about this phenomenon, I remembered that even using your personal computer at a public place with a wireless connection can expose a person's personal and sometimes, financial details.
Just the other day, Martin Bosworth, over at Consumer Affairs, wrote an excellent piece covering this danger, where he stated:
Sending unencrypted information over any unfamiliar network can turn your computer into an open book -- with pages full of your personal information.
Many of these connections are appear to be legitimate connections because they are spoofed (camouflaged to appear as if they are a trusted connection).
Spoofing a connection, or site isn't very hard to do. They simply copy and transpose pictures and statements (words) from legitimate sites to their own. The Artists Against website has a portal, where you can see fake websites that are up and running on the Internet, here.
Martin's article contains some excellent tips on how to navigate the murky waters of public hot spots, safely.
They can be viewed, here.
Interestingly enough, wireless technology, isn't only used to compromise individuals. In the recent TJX data breach, where some are saying 200 million records were stolen since 2003, reports are saying the data was stolen, using wireless technology.
It's being reported that this was accomplished from a car with a laptop. Driving around with a laptop, using other people's wireless connections, is sometimes referred to as "war-driving," which is my new word for the day.
Joseph Pereira (Wall Street Journal) wrote about this (courtesy of the Northwest Florida Daily News), here.