Getting access to the Internet in public places has never been easier, as hot spots are becoming ubiquitous. No matter if you are a business traveler, student, or blogger, you can receive an email at the airport, prepare an interim report at a bookstore or write a column in a cafe. These hotspots provide extreme convenience; But, this convenience comes with a price. Using a public Wi-Fi may not be as secure as you think.
Why the use of public Wi-Fi can put your personal data at risk?
To provide easy access to the Internet for its users, a public wireless connection provides less security measures than a private one. In many cases, it does not even require a password to connect, in other cases, the password is easy to guess, almost unable to provide protection.
Without these authentication steps, snoops with you use the same network, it will be very easy to invade your privacy. By positioning itself between the device and the connection point, a hacker can intercept information transmitted from you, including email, online credentials, and even bank account information. Worse, if you don’t turn off the file sharing feature, a hacker can also use it to distribute malware to your computer.
How to protect yourself when using a public network？
To reduce the risk that your information is stolen at a public access point, there are some precautions you can take to protect your privacy:
1 Do not connect to unknown WiFi networks
Looking to connect Wi-Fi in public places has become almost a reflex for many people. Hackers can use this path and create their own wireless network with names like “Free Wi-Fi” or “Public Wi-Fi” to trick their prey. Therefore, to avoid connecting to any suspicious network, if you can accept that this is provided by a reliable source.
2 Look at SSL connections
When browsing the website, check the URL first. If the site name begins with ‘HTTPS’, which means that your data will travel encrypted and cannot be read. Raise your attention if it is only ‘HTTP’, as this means that your information will be sent without encryption, putting your privacy at risk. In addition, it is strongly recommended to enable the “Always use HTTPS” option in the view settings.
4 Using VPN
Virtual Private Network offers an additional level of encryption for Internet connection. Since VPN encrypts all data transmitted, hackers will not be able to reach your data without a decryption key.
5 Turn off Wi-Fi when not in use.
If you are doing work in Excel or Word, which does not require an Internet connection, simply turn off Wi-Fi. Even if you are not connected to a network, with the result that your Wi-Fi still leads to a slight Wi-Fi data transfer from your hardware to other networks. Turning off Wi-Fi not only reduces the likelihood of your privacy compromising, but also saves your battery life, as it no longer consumes energy to search for networks nearby.
6 Do not send confidential information in a public communication.
If this is not an urgent case, there is no need to take the risk, to be hacked using online banking and sending personal credentials within the public network. If you have to do it like this, then make sure that the site you are viewing is secured before conducting any transaction.
7 Install antivirus for additional protection.
Even if you have taken all these precautions, you can still run into problems sometimes. In addition to the above tips, you should also install antivirus software on your computer. A good functioning antivirus can offer protection in time whenever there are suspicious activities that could be a threat to your computer.
And finally, the key point to keep you safe. Remember that when you are on the Internet in public places, there will be chances of search engines to overhear your Internet communications. Thus, when using a public access point, always remain vigilant in order to remain protected.