Many of us use a public Wi-Fi connection on a daily basis, whether it’s visiting the local café, hotel, or airport. These types of networks are not nearly as safe as you would think. By allowing yourself to be connected to a network with many others, you’re putting your own data at risk. I will be explaining the ins and outs of public Wi-Fi use.
Invasion of Privacy
When using a Wi-Fi or hot spot, you can have the person right next to you gain access to almost all the information available on your computer. If the connection is not a SSL secure connection there are possibilities that you can be infiltrated and have your identity stolen. Many are surprised at how easy it is to do such things. What’s worse is with technology becoming more and more advanced every day, anyone can gain this type of knowledge.
Virtual Private Networks
As stated above, having your information leaked to the wrong person can be a scary thought. Protect yourself by having a virtual private network in these types of situations. Having a program such as this can change the encryption data and make it so a common hacker can no longer access your computer. Take the time to research good networks to see which one you can benefit from the most.
Setting up your own Wi-Fi spot and tricking people into joining it is a very easy thing to do. Watch out for these types of traps, they are meant to steal information from anyone who connects. Look over any connection you are trying to access and don’t be fooled by names such as “Free Café Wi-Fi”, ask the owners of the hotspot to make sure it’s secure. Falling into these fraudulent Wi-Fi traps put all your personal information at risk.
Before checking emails on a public Wi-Fi network make sure all your security features are in place. For many users, emails are the core of vital information. Change your passwords as soon as possible after leaving any public network. By creating complex passwords you can also help maintain your privacy.
Have your firewall up and running on your computer before connecting to a public network. There are many third party firewalls that work incredibly well. They might take a little to setup but in the end this can help you keep away low-tier malicious invasions.
Try to keep an eye out for secure SSL encrypted websites. You can easily tell which sites are secure by looking (on Google Chrome) at the address bar and seeing a green lock. If you see a red lock, or no lock at all, then the website is not secure.
Unlike computers, most mobile devices do not have any indicator for http secure websites. It’s been proven that handheld devices cannot encrypt websites correctly. So it would be smart to stay away from certain applications when running on an unsecured Wi-Fi network. Try to stay away from doing any sort of transactions on a public network with your phone such as paying bills, checking your bank account, and shopping. They make mobile VPNs to raise the security of these devices, looking into these might be of great help if you absolutely need to make transactions.
When using a personal network, sharing resources is not a problem. When using anything public, make sure to always turn this option off. Public networks are never known to have a high level of security. Turn off Public File Sharing, File Sharing, and Network Discovery.
Disable all Wi-Fi when not using it. Leaving this on while you’re enjoying your coffee or going to sleep at a hotel is like leaving the door open for other users to take your information.
While you’re at it, also disable your Bluetooth since this is easily as accessible.
There are many anti-virus programs on the market as it’s a very competitive scene. Picking a good one can really help, and keep you from having your personal space invaded. Most have Anti-Spyware, this can keep you from receiving malicious bugs while surfing non SSL encrypted websites. Not to mention a ton of goodies that will make your connection secure.
I really hope you enjoyed looking over some of these facts about public Wi-Fi. Keeping information secure should be a number one priority for anyone with modern technology.
If you’re looking for the best public wi-fi spots in Johannesburg, our editor wrote this column in the March issue of Hello Joburg Magazine. It can help:
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