How to stay safe on the Public WiFi

How to stay safe on the Public WiFi

Most public WiFi networks, like the ones found in restaurants and airports, are not as safe as you might think.

No matter whether they are password-protected or not, you must remember that you are sharing the network with hundreds of other people. This automatically puts your data at a risk unless you are aware of the ways to keep yourself safe on a public wireless network. The following tips can help.

1. Use a VPN

A VPN (also known as a virtual private network) extends a private network across a public wired/wireless network. It’s presumably the most secured way of browsing the internet on a public wireless network.

A virtual private network allows a user to share his/data on the internet as if his/her device is connected to his/her private home network. The below diagram explains the different functionalities of VPN beautifully and right to the point.

 

Source- Wiki

2. Switch off your file sharing mode

It is fine to have your file sharing mode on when you are at home.

It is perhaps even okay to allow remote users to get onto your private network when you are at home. But when you are on a public network, you must exercise caution and turn this feature off to safeguard yourself from all possible dangers.

Here’s how you do it:

  • ON MAC OS X

  1. Go to System Preferences.

  2. Find out Sharing.

  3. Uncheck all boxes.

  • ON WINDOWS:

  1. Go to Control Panel.

  2. Find out Network and Internet and from there, go to Network and Sharing Center.

  3. Click “Change Advanced Sharing settings.”

  • Once you are there, turn file and printer sharing off. Also, consider turning public folder sharing and network discovery off for maximum safety.

3. If you are not using WiFi, turn it off

Not using WiFi? Switch it off immediately.

This will prevent your phone or laptop from connecting itself automatically to an open public network; something that definitely counts as a good practice in itself.

Note: Open WiFi networks, particularly the ones coming without a captive portal and a password, have high chances of being a rogue network set up by a fraud to steal sensitive data from the users. So who knows whether the network you are connecting to is genuine or not?

Source- Flickr

Hence, it’s advisable to be on the safe side and turn your WiFi off especially when you aren’t using it.

4. Turn your firewall on

Almost all operating systems (including the likes of OS X, Windows, etc.) come with a firewall that helps to monitor your number of incoming and outgoing connections. Always turn this setting on whenever you are connected to a public WiFi network.

Note: Having your firewall on is definitely not the permanent solution. But at least, it can help to keep all those low threats at bay.

Here are your steps to follow for turning the firewall ON on a MAC device:

  • Find out System Preferences.

  • Go to Security and Privacy.

  • Look for the Firewall tab and check “Turn on firewall.”

Here are your steps to follow for turning the firewall ON on a Windows device:

  • Go to Control Panel.

  • Locate System and Security and go to firewall settings.

  • And then click on Turn Windows Firewall On/Off to finish the job.

5. Never access sensitive data such as bank details on a public WiFi network

Accessing sensitive financial information on a public WiFi network (such as doing online banking) must be avoided at all possible cost.

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

A few more notable mentions

  • Try browsing SSL and HTTPS websites when you are on a public network.

  • Use the latest antivirus software on your device.

  • Change your passwords to more complex ones before going out on tour. As soon as you come back, change them back.

  • DO NOT get on an unknown public network that doesn’t ask for a password.

  • And finally, double check the name of the network with the service provider to ensure you are getting on to the right one.

So that sums up our article for now. Stay safe; stay blessed. Goodbye!

 

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