9 Ways to Be Safe on a Public Wireless Network
We live in a day and age where you can connect to the internet almost anywhere. A Public Wireless Network is available for remote use at most local coffee shops, restaurants, or the airport. Bluetooth technology has equally made it possible for us to stream our favorite music and entertainment in our home, car, or on the road. Needless to say, wireless technology has afforded all of us the freedom to connect virtually anywhere we want.
There are a lot of benefits to being able to connect to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so is the opportunity for your personal and business information to be compromised. Most Wi-Fi users don’t understand the risks associated with tapping onto an insecure network. These spaces are ideal for cyber criminals to attack you.
Here are 9 things you should consider when you log onto any public wireless network:
- Use Trusted Networks – Not all Wi-Fi networks are the same. If the place you are visiting is advertising free Wi-Fi, then you should probably avoid it. There are tools that can help you find safe networks. For example, you could use WiFox to find out what networks are available to you at an airport instead of using the free Wi-Fi they offer everyone. If you are have to use a network other than your own, avoid doing anything other than surfing the net. In other words, avoid doing your online banking until you can be sure you are using a more secure network.
- Edit Computer Settings – Make sure you turn off file sharing and air-drop options when you are on a Wi-Fi network that is not your own. Remember you have control over what you are sharing on your computer. You can’t always control who is sharing the same network you are on when you are out and about so be cautious. Enable your system’s built-in firewalls and keep internet connected apps and services to a minimum.
- Turn it Off – If you don’t need to be connected to the internet, turn off your Wi-Fi settings. This can be one of the biggest ways you can avoid compromising your data while you are away from a trusted internet source. This is a nice little habit to get into and implementing it will extend your battery life on your device as well.
- Keep Your Virus Protection Updated – It is important to make sure the device you are on has an updated antivirus or firewall protection on it. Having that second layer of protection can help you be more secure as an end user when you are using a wireless public network.
- Go to Secure Domain – Make sure that when you are surfing domains, that you are connecting to one that has HTTPS in it. Insecure domains use HTTP and don’t have that extra layer of protection you are looking for.
- Use Your Own VPN – One of the best protections from unknown Wi-Fi networks is direct encrypted access to one that is secure. That means using a VPN when you are out and about will make sure your internet activity will be encrypted by you and your service provider locking out the bad guys that like to snoop around for your personal data.
- Bring Your Own Wi-Fi – When in doubt, use your own Wi-Fi. Your smart phone has an encrypted hot spot and is more secure than most networks. Your phone is also password protected which adds a second layer of protection. Check with your local carrier to make sure you aren’t charged for additional cellular data when using your hot spot.
- Take Off Default – If you are in a densely populated area, don’t leave your Wi-Fi in its default setup configuration. Being able to control when you want to access a public wireless network should be a priority. You don’t want anyone you don’t know using your network.
- Hide Your Network – A common feature most people don’t know about is the option to “hide” your wireless network. This doesn’t solely protect you against a hacking attack, but it adds one more layer of security that you didn’t have before.
If you have any questions about whether or not your network is secure, call Protek.
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Eric is the owner and CEO of Protek Support and is a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). He graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Business with an emphasis in Information Technology (IT). He is an IT Services expert in a variety of technology related fields. Some of these fields include document management software/hardware, enterprise level networking and VoIP phone systems, as well as large scale software implementation projects and the setup of small business networks.