Public Wi-Fi networks in malls, schools, hotels, airports, libraries, coffee shops, and other public places are convenient, but often are far from being safe. If you connect to a public Wi-Fi network and send sensitive personal information through websites or mobile apps, it can be accessed by other people. Don’t assume that since the network has a password, it has to be safe.

If you need to access public wireless networks, make sure your computer and your personal information are safe by doing the following things.

Turn Off Sharing

When you’re at home, it’s normal to share files, printers, or even allow remote login from other computers on your network. When you’re on a public network, you need to turn these things off, as anyone can access them. They don’t even need to be a hacker, and depending on your setup, some of that stuff isn’t even password protected. You also need to turn off network discovery. This will prevent others from even seeing your machine on the network so you’re less likely to be targeted.

Ensure Your Firewall is Enabled

You may already be using a default firewall on your computer, but just in case, go to your security settings and make sure your firewall is turned on. You can also edit which applications are allowed access by clicking on “allow a program or feature” in Windows and “advanced” in OS X. Your firewall is not an end-all, be-all protector, but it’s safer to have this wall than none at all.

Use HTTPS and SSL If Possible

Regular web site connections over HTTP exchange lots of plain text over the wireless network you’re using and someone with the right skills and bad intent can sniff out that traffic very easily. It becomes a big deal when it’s the password to your email account. Using HTTPS (for visiting web sites) or enabling SSL (when using applications that access the Internet, such as an email client) encrypts the data passed back and forth between your computer and that web server and keeps from prying eyes away.

Turn the Public Wi-Fi Off When Not Using It

If you want to guarantee your security and you’re not actively using the Internet, simply turn off your Wi-Fi. This is extremely easy in both Windows and OS X. When you’re not actively using the public Wi-Fi, it’s not a bad idea to just turn it off for the time being. The longer you stay connected, the longer people have to notice you’re staying long and will start snooping around.

Protect Your Information

When using public Wi-Fi, log in or send personal information only to websites you know are fully encrypted. Your entire visit to each site should be encrypted, from the time you log in to the site until you log out. If you think you’re logged in to an encrypted site but find yourself on an unencrypted page, log out right away. Don’t stay permanently signed in to accounts. When you’ve finished using an account, log out. Do not use the same password on different websites. It could give someone who gains access to one of your accounts access to most of your accounts.

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This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 6:12:08 AM and is filed under Tech Tips & Tricks.

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