Welcome to part two of 13 Tips for Staying Secure on Public WiFi!
We all use it. We all love it. But gosh darn it, if public networks aren’t incredibly risky for anyone to sneak in and steal your personal information – almost like leaving the house door unlocked while away.
If you haven’t done so yet, jump on over to read part one here, which is packed with more tips and the stats for why they’re important when it comes to open networks. Ready to hear some more? Here’s part two with more information to keep you safe while accessing information online!
6) Make Your Own Hotspot
Best when used through an Ethernet cable or cellular data to create your own hotspot, this option allows you to use wifi securely. It may not be as fast, but it’s always more secure to join your own trusted network.
For most devices, hotspot and wifi sharing can be turned on in settings – complete with customizable hotspot names and passwords – but for Android users, an app like KitKat may first have to be installed.
7) Use a Portable Hotspot
Don’t want to eat up your data plan? Consider purchasing a hotspot like a cellular modem or portable wifi router which often gives access to multiple devices at once off its own battery and data.
8) Don’t Access Sensitive Data
When it comes to public networks, no wifi is truly foolproof, which is why you should always avoid accessing sensitive data such as your bank accounts, paying bills, or using your credit card to make online purchases, as you never know who is watching.
Even typing in your passwords can be a big hazard, so consider storing them on encrypted apps , while entering them only on sites that contain two-factor authentication.
9) Create a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a necessity when it comes to encrypting and protecting data set over the internet. Creating a restricted “network tunnel” between your phone and laptop, having a VPN prevents anyone from outside your own devices from snooping – even ISP or the wifi providers themselves.
Installing a VPN may be costly or complicated, but it’s well worth the investment and the product research. Contact an IT professional to assist you with this set-up, if needed.
10) Turn Off Sharing
It’s typical to connect our laptop or phone to a sharing device like Bluetooth or a printer when at home, but out in public, if left on, those same sharing privileges could mean an open doorway for hackers to get in.
Before leaving the house or office, access your settings and turn off “network discovery” (typically under “advanced sharing options”) so your device won’t appear active to others, while also turning off “file and printer sharing”.
11) Ensure it’s HTTPS
While this usually goes without saying – search engines like Google and Firefox often taking down non-complying sites – every website you open should be secured through SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and HTTPS.
Not sure if yours is? It’s simple to double check – merely see the beginning of the website tag for “https” or a lock symbol.
12) Always Update
It may be tempting to put off those time consuming Windows, Mac, or iOS updates that pop up, but this can actually be a big mistake. Operating system updates are often about more than just some fancy new features, but rather plugging massive security leaks that became a problem for multiple users.
Worse yet, if you’re still running off an old version, the moment there’s a new update, every hacker in the world now knows that there was issues with the old version – therefore making you and your device a new, easy target.
13) Turn on Firewall
Last but not least, though perhaps the most basic, you’d be surprised how many ignore their biggest and easiest asset in keeping their devices secure: turning on a firewall.
The market is saturated with countless firewall programs out there, and once it’s installed, you can not only prevent viruses and hackers (so long as it’s turned on) from accessing your device, but also scrub your system quickly should one get in. It’s an investment, but a worthy one.
Learn to adopt even one of these tips and you’re already on your way to a more secure network, so don’t wait for the worst to happen! Take the precautions now and foil those hackers.