10 Tips To Stay Safe On Public WI-FI
While you will need tips to stay safe on public WI-FI networks all year round, most certainly you’ll need to use these tips for this holiday season.
So, the holiday season is now upon us. People buy a lot of presents online these days. People also travel a lot in December to get home for Christmas and use public WI-FI en route to their destinations. Reuniting with friends and family means sharing a coffee at your favorite place and probably sharing a public WI-FI connection with a lot of people. No matter what you do this December, it is very likely that you’ll find yourself connected to a public WI-FI.
This is why we want to share with you our 10 tips to stay safe on public WI-FI this December.
First of all it is important to understand that while you are online connected to a public WI-FI you are exposing your devices to potential hackers. Most importantly, you need to keep in mind that hackers can access every file you have on your device, even when that file is not open.
Protecting your personal information when connected to public WI-FI is not rocket science. It’s a necessity and everyone should take action to protect themselves. So here’s what you can do…
1. Verify the WI-FI network
No, we’re not going to suggest complicated steps on that matter. There are ways, but today’s article is about the average user, who will not be bothered with complicated stuff.
We’re talking about physically asking a staff member if the network you’re about to connect to is the provider’s official system. For instance, when you’re in an airport, ask an employee about the exact name of the WI-FI network. In a coffee house? Ask the barista.
Just make sure you connect to an ‘official’ network, not a dodgy one which may come with more security threats.
This tip will not guarantee total safety, as many people use a public WI-FI network. However, you’ll avoid falling into the trap of someone with bad intentions.
2. Update your security solutions
Before connecting to a public WI-FI make sure that your security solutions are installed and up to date. This might be obvious at first but needs to be said, as it is an important step.
Even though wireless routers have their own firewalls, those do not protect you from the people using the public WI-FI network. You don’t know them and you don’t know their intentions. Someone at the next table may be interested in your credit card info…
3. Turn off sharing
You’ll need to turn off sharing functions on your device before connecting to a public WI-FI. It’s easy, don’t worry!
For Windows users: Go to Control Panel > Network &Internet > Network & Sharing Center > Choose Change Advance Sharing Setting > Turn off File and Printer Sharing > Turn off Network Discovery & Public Folder Sharing.
For OS X users: Go to System Preferences > Make sure all boxes are unchecked.
4. Keep an eye on the address bar while browsing
When browsing, it is preferable to use HTTPS protocol, which encrypts communication between the web browser and the web server.
Basically, try to use websites that support this HTTPS protocol. For instance, if you’ll have a look at your address bar while on Facebook, you’ll see it automatically uses a HTTPS protocol. However, there are websites which support it but use as a default just the HTTP connection. You can switch it to HTTPS if you manually type it in the address bar.
Another option would be using the HTTPS Everywhere web browser extension.
5. Try not to log in
It would be great if you could avoid using sites that ask for your credentials while you’re on public Wi-FI. We’re referring especially to online banking services or any other websites that require typing in your credentials or that store your credit card information.
If you absolutely have to check your bank account or purchase something online or access your e-mail address then we would strongly recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to do that.
6. Use your cell phone network
If you’re out on a limb and need to access something delicate, it is better to switch off the public WI-FI and connect to your cell phone network while you do that.
7. Turn off WI- FI when…
Not using your device this instant? Maybe you’re having a quick chat with someone or doing a million other things… While you’re not using the public WI-FI connection, just turn it off. It’s as simple as that!
8. Remember your passwords
You might cringe at this tip as we’re all tempted to save our passwords on our devices. Well, if you’re serious about the safety of your personal or work information, do not use the option of saving your passwords. It may save you from snoopers going into your private stuff.
If memory isn’t your strong point, you may think about using a service like LastPass. We never save our passwords. We just don’t.
9. Use a VPN when using public wi-fi
This tip is of essence. Not just because we’re VPN services providers but because you should be aware by now why using a Virtual Private Network is so important nowadays.
Think of a Virtual Private Network as an encrypted tunnel through which you can access sensitive information. Even when you are connected to a public WI-FI a VPN will keep your personal information personal and will save you from a lot of online threats. A VPN is your online protection from hackers, snoopers or anybody who wants to find out what you do online. You can check our subscription packages.
10. Listen to your common sense
Look around you. Stay alert. You may not be aware of a lot of threats out there but paying attention around you pays off in the long run. Dodgy people around you? Maybe you don’t start Christmas shopping online while you have your coffee. Weird public WI-FI names? Maybe you don’t need to get online right away.
All in all, we hope you get the idea: don’t just connect to a public WI-FI and hope for the best. You need to be aware of the risks you’re exposing yourself to. You need to take some precautions and you need to do it now. Maybe in January someone buys himself a nice little something with your credit card. Or that secret work project is not so secret anymore.
Be safe out there. It’s your life and your privacy!