Free public Wi-Fi hotspots have become the need of the hour today for the economic growth of any progressive nation. However, with the growing usage of these Wifi hotspots, there is also increased speculation about security risks involved. While the new Wifi technologies are far more secure than the earlier ones, consumers do need to remember that public Wifi networks are not the same as their home Wifi networks. Therefore following certain measures are imperative to ensure complete safety and security of their data while using public Wifi. Few important tips that can help consumers stay protected are:
1. Switch off File sharing option in a public place
Sharing files, music, printers from home or office is a common practice these days. However it can be dangerous to leave the file sharing option open while using Wifi in public. If you do not disable these settings before connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, anyone in the vicinity may be able to hack into your PC. Although Wi-Fi networks cannot be controlled by remote login, your computer can be, hence switching off file sharing option is important.
2. Browse internet through a Virtual Private Network for greater security
VPN is one of the most secure options to browse internet on a public network. Your traffic is routed through a secure network on public Wi-Fi, giving you the safety of a private network connection as well as the freedom of a public Wi-Fi network. There are free as well as paid VPN options available in the market. You can connect to any depending on your usage and the need for data security. Setting up a VPN is the safest way for someone who regularly connects to a public network.
3. Disable Automatic Connection to Wi-Fi Hotspots
Your smartphone has a setting that can seriously endanger your privacy. Any smartphone is automatically set to connect to any Wi-Fi network in the area. This allows anyone to access your device without your knowledge or permission. You can tweak your device’s settings to ensure manual connection to Wi-Fi hotspots only. This way, you are protected from unknowingly connecting to a rogue network, which may compromise your privacy and other sensitive information.
4. Create encrypted connection with browser extension HTTPS
To avoid your PC getting hacked over a public Wi-Fi network, stick to websites that use HTTPS during your Internet surfing activity. While regular websites transfer content in plain text, thereby making it an easy target for potential hackers; websites that use HTTPS, encrypt your activity thus offering an extra layer of security. In order to be sure you are on an HTTPS website, simply look for a padlock in the address bar or check the URL for “https://…”. You can also create this encrypted connection with the browser extension HTTPS, everywhere.
5. Be sure about the Network name
Hackers sometimes use fake hotspots to lure people in. For example you may receive an option at Barista saying “Free Barista Wifi connection”. Same goes for the hotel you may be staying at or an airport wifi you may be trying to connect to. Generic names like these obviously lure people to connect to the network. It is always safe to ask the concerned venue authority about the actual Wifi name. Alternatively, you could also deploy security measures described above to ensure that you do not put your device into the hands of any malicious person or professional hacker.
6. Ensure first line of defense through Firewalls
Firewalls are built into most systems. Though they may not offer complete protection, but they certainly are a good first line of defense. Hence firewalls should always be activated in your systems. You can always check whether your firewall is activated from your control panel.