It seems like anything that we want to do nowadays needs an Internet connection. There are free Wi-Fi spots opening up everywhere from public transport, to coffee shops, to libraries, and restaurants.
Most of these public Wi-Fi spots are encrypted but there are still large amounts of unencrypted ones too that make it easy for cybercriminals to take advantage of it.
We can’t place all of the blame on the administrators when something goes wrong either as there are a few simple steps that you can take yourself to protect your data.
1. Turn Off Sharing
Almost all smartphones, tablets, computers and printers come with sharing options that will need to be switched off whenever you’re using public Wi-Fi.
This will keep any unwanted people from connecting to your device and accessing your personal information. You can take this a step further by turning off network discovery so the device is not visible to others on the network.
2. Network Verification
While it may be the quickest option to just select the Wi-Fi with the strongest signal, it isn’t necessarily the smartest or safest option. You must take the time to double check the network that you’re connecting too to make sure it is correct. Hackers often spoof Wi-Fi networks to make it look the same as another.
When using public Wi-Fi it is never a good idea to use any websites that you have to provide login credentials for. If you must use such a website that only use those that use the HTTPS protocol instead of HTTP. This ensures communication between the website and browser is encrypted.
4. Use a VPN
Using a VPN is most probably the smartest solution to your online safety. This basically takes your connection to a public Wi-Fi spot and makes it a private one. There are a huge number of available VPNs available and some are easier to work out than others and I believe this is why more people do not use a VPN.
5. Switch Off When Not In Use
I use to be guilty of this all the time but I would always leave my Wi-Fi switched on so that it automatically connected to the free Wi-Fi when I came in the area. This is just stupid and should be avoided at all costs. The longer you leave public Wi-Fi open, the more susceptible you become to hackers.
It is true that hackers pose a serious threat but there are simple steps that we can use to avoid becoming the next victim. We have a right to keep information secure, we have a right to fight back.