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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Top 5 Tips to Stay Safe on a Public WiFi Network

Public WiFi networks, like the ones found in posh restaurants and coffee shops, aren’t nearly as safe as you might think.

No matter whether they have a password or not, you need to remember that you are sharing the network with dozens of other people. This automatically signifies the fact that your personal data is always at a risk unless you know the right ways of keeping yourself safe on a public WiFi network. Maybe, the following tips can help.
How to Stay Safe on a Public WiFi Network

1. Browse with a VPN

The most secure way of browsing a public WiFi network is to use a VPN for the job.

A VPN (AKA virtual private network) extends a private network across a public network allowing users to share data on the same as if their mobile device is connected to a private network, in particular. Here’s an overview of the different functionalities of VPN made through a simple diagrammatic representation.
Virtual Private Network VPN

2. Turn your file sharing OFF

When you are at home, you may consider sharing files, printers, etc. and may even allow remote users to get onto your network, but when you are on a public WiFi network, you must turn this feature OFF at all possible cost to prevent any sort of unauthorized data access.

Here’s how you do it:
    1. Go to Control Panel.
    2. Find Network and Internet and from there, go to Network and Sharing Center.
    3. Click on Change Advanced Sharing settings.
    4. Once you are there, turn file and printer sharing off. You may also consider turning public folder sharing and network discovery off to maximize your security in the best possible manner.
    1. Find System Preferences.
    2. Go to Sharing.
    3. Uncheck all the boxes.

3. Not using WiFi? Turn it OFF

If you are not using your WiFi, turn it off. This will prevent your device to automatically connect itself to an open public WiFi network.

Open public networks (ones coming without a password or a captive portal) have high chances of being a malicious network set up by a hacker for stealing sensitive information from the users. Who knows whether the one you connect to isn’t malicious or not?
Online Hacker Hacking Activity
Therefore, it’s advisable to be on the safe side and turn your WiFi off when you are not using it.

4. Turn your operating system firewall on

Most operating systems (including the likes of Windows, OS X, etc.) come with a firewall that helps to monitor incoming and outgoing connections. Consider turning this setting on whenever you are connecting yourself to a public WiFi network.

Note: Turning a firewall on is definitely not the permanent solution. But at least, it can play some role in keeping low-level threats at bay. So use this feature to your advantage for your own good.

Here’s how you can turn your firewall ON on a WINDOWS device:
  1. Go to Control Panel.
  2. Find System and Security and locate firewall settings.
  3. And then click on the Turn Windows Firewall On/Off option to complete the job.
  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Find Security and Privacy.
  3. Look for the Firewall tab and click on Turn on firewall.

5. DO NOT access sensitive financial information on a public network

Do Not Bank on Public WiFi Network
Accessing financial information (like doing online banking) on a public WiFi network poses a greater threat to your financial security. So AVOID at all possible cost.

Also avoid logging into sensitive personal accounts such as that of retail websites, virtual wallets, insurances, health providers, etc. while being on a public network.

A few more key mentions:
  • Always try to browse HTTPS and SSL websites whenever possible.
  • Make sure you use the latest antivirus software on your device.
  • If you have plans to travel, change your passwords (to more complex ones) before making the trip. Switch them back afterward.
  • Avoid getting onto a public network that doesn’t ask for a password.
  • Always make sure of the network name with the provider before getting on the same.
  • And finally, update your device from time to time to remove exploitable loopholes (if any).
So that sums up this article for now. Hope the tips mentioned above come in handy for your purpose. Stay safe!
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