Public WiFi Safety Tips
With the holiday season here, many of us will be traveling and looking for free WiFi at airports, hotels, restaurants and cafés. But do remember that you cannot rely on public networks to keep your data secure. We know it is not realistic to never use public WiFi, so here are some tips to enjoy the convenience of public Wi-Fi whilst helping to protect your privacy.
• Whilst you may share your files in the privacy of your own home, do disable sharing settings on your device before connecting to a public Wi-Fi network otherwise anyone else in the vicinity may be able to hack into your device.
• If your device is set to automatically connect to any available Wi-Fi hotspot, turn it off as not only will this allow it to connect to public networks without your permission, you might also connect to malicious networks set up specifically to steal your information.
• Hackers can set up fake Wi-Fi networks to attract innocent public Wi-Fi users. If you’re in a café, hotel or other public place and you’re not sure that you’re connecting to the official network, ask. Employees will know the name of the official network and should help you connect.
• Not all free WiFi networks are equal. There are completely opened networks like those in airports and there are semi-opened networks in coffee shops and restaurants. The second type of public WiFi is safer as most restaurants and cafes secure their networks by a password or other security key. When you point to the wireless network icon in the notification area, most devices display a list of the available wireless networks and will indicate whether they’re using some form of security.
• One of the riskiest things you can do while connected to a public WiFi network is to complete a financial transaction. Shopping online and accessing your bank account over an unsecured public WiFi network are a shortcut to being hacked. A hacker with the right tools can use the same public network to see everything you do, including the websites you visit and any passwords or information you type. It’s like inviting someone to peer over your shoulder.
• Turn off your connection to public WiFi as soon as you have finished using it. The longer you stay on the network, the higher the risk of becoming a victim of one of the many public WiFi dangers. In fact, when you’re not using your device while connected to public WiFi, you make it even easier for hackers because if you are not looking at your screen, you won’t notice any suspicious activity happening on your device.