Top 10 Tips to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi and Protect Your Privacy

Public WiFi

Public WiFi

10 Safety tips for using Public Wi-Fi networks and protect your privacy for good

Shopping malls, airports, restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, public transportation, and hotel rooms all have Public Wi-Fi. Millions of people use these networks daily. According to a recent survey, three out of every four respondents use free public Wi-Fi. However, most people are unaware that free public Wi-Fi is not secure.

Even if a password is required to log in, this does not guarantee the privacy of your online activities so it is very important to protect your privacy. The number of free public Wi-Fi hotspots is increasing, not every hotspot can provide the security of a private home network. The default settings and firewalls on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone may not be enough to keep you safe from prying eyes while on the go. Here are the top 10 tips for protecting yourself when you’re away from home if you want to keep your information and files secure.

 

1.Turn Off Sharing

In the privacy of your own home, you can share your music library, printers, or files, or even allow remote login from other computers on your Wi-Fi network. Anyone in the vicinity may be able to hack into your PC unless you disable these settings before connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. If you’re using a Windows PC, open the advanced sharing settings of the Homegroup section of the Network and Internet settings in the Control Panel.

 

2.Get a VPN

A virtual private network is the most secure way to browse on a public network. A VPN routes your traffic through a secure network even when using public Wi-Fi, giving you all the benefits of your private network while still allowing you to use public Wi-Fi freely. While free VPN services exist, a paid VPN service ensures the integrity of the connection. If you frequently connect to unknown networks, setting up a VPN to protect your personal information is a good idea.

 

3.Avoid Automatically Connecting to Wi-Fi Hotspots

Your smartphone or tablet may be set to automatically connect to any available Wi-Fi hotspot, putting your privacy at risk. Not only will this allow your device to connect to public networks without your explicit permission, but it may also connect to malicious networks designed specifically to steal your information. Most modern smartphones have this option disabled by default, but this isn’t always the case, so double-check it. To begin, navigate to the Wi-Fi section of your phone’s settings app. You’re already safe if you don’t see an option to disable auto-connecting. Otherwise, disable this option.

 

4.Use HTTPS

Regular websites send content in plain text, making them an easy target for anyone who has gained access to your network connection. Although many websites use HTTPS to encrypt data transfers, you should not rely on the website or Web service to keep you safe. This encrypted connection can be established using the browser extension HTTPS Everywhere. When you enable this plugin, almost all website connections are encrypted with HTTPS, ensuring that any data transfer is secure from prying eyes.

 

5.Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication requires two pieces of information to log into an account: one that you know and one that you have. This is usually in the form of a password and a code sent to your cellphone. Many well-known websites and services accept two-factor authentication. This means that even if someone obtains your password through a flaw in a public Wi-Fi network, they will be unable to access your account.

 

6.Confirm the Network Name

Hackers will sometimes set up a fake Wi-Fi network to attract unwitting public Wi-Fi users. It’s possible that the Starbucks public Wi-Fi network isn’t called “Free Starbucks Wi-Fi.” Connecting to a bogus network could put your device in the hands of a malicious scumbag. If you are unsure whether you are connected to the official network, ask. Employees at a café or coffee shop will know the name of the official network and will assist you in connecting.

 

7.Protect Your Passwords

Using different passwords for different accounts can help if one of them is compromised. Keeping track of multiple secure passwords can be difficult, so using a password manager like KeePass or LastPass can help. KeePass and LastPass are both free, but they store your data in different ways. LastPass stores your credentials in the cloud, whereas KeePass keeps an encrypted database file on your computer.

 

8.Turn on Your Firewall

Most operating systems include a firewall that monitors incoming and outgoing connections. A firewall will not provide complete protection, but it should always be enabled. Locate your firewall settings in the Control Panel under System And Security on a Windows notebook. Turn Windows Firewall On or Off by clicking on Windows Firewall. Enter your administrator password, then make sure the Windows Firewall is turned on. On a Mac, these options can be found in System Preferences, then Security & Privacy. Navigate to the Firewall tab and press the Turn On Firewall button.

 

9.Run Anti-Virus Software

Keeping your anti-virus software up to date can help provide the first warning if your system has been compromised while connected to an unsecured network. If any known viruses are loaded onto your PC, or if there is any suspicious behavior, such as changes to registry files, an alert will be displayed. While anti-virus software may not catch all unauthorized activity, it is an excellent way to protect against the majority of attacks.

 

10.Use your mobile data. Your mobile data is usually encrypted.

If you’re on the go and don’t have access to a secure website or VPN encryption, consider using your mobile data instead of Wi-Fi. This is a good option when putting personal information into apps because it can be difficult to tell if they’re encrypted.

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