Sitting down with a cup of coffee and logging into your local cafe’s Wi-Fi network is not as safe as most Wi-Fi addicts think. Public hotspots are just as popular amongst the hacker community as they are among Starbucks fans. You can even go as far as comparing it to accessing your bank account in an internet cafe. Big no-no!
But besides being stranded in meetings, lunches and on-the-move without your beloved internet connection, there are other ways to ensure you don’t become the victim of data-theft through Wi-Fi, and they’re not as expensive or complicated as you might think. Here are a few ways to stay safe while surfing an open Wi-Fi connection.
Shut Down Sharing
The danger of using a public hotspot is not the internet, which you should be protected from as most routers have built-in firewalls, but the other Wi-Fi users that are logged onto the same network. They can basically have free range of your data if they wish so and if you haven’t taken the right steps to protect your laptop. Turning off your sharing settings is step number one, and a crucial one at that! Make sure those settings you use to share flies, music and connect at home are turned off before you leave the house or office, not that we recommend using this function in an office environment either.
It’s simple; if you’re using a Mac just go to System Preferences and then click Sharing and make sure all the available boxes are unchecked to disable sharing on your Mac. If you’re working with Windows, open Control Panel, Network and Internet, Network and Sharing Centre, Choose Homegroup and Sharing Options and then select “Change Advanced Sharing Options”. Then disable File and Printer Sharing, Network Discovery and Public Folder Sharing. Better safe than sorry! This should do the trick at ensuring people can’t access you computer, grab your data or even see your laptop as an available sharing partner.
Get your Firewall Up
Make sure your default firewalls are up, updated and ready for attack. Nothing’s worse than having an expensive firewall and finding out you had it on the wrong setting the entire time. Your laptop should have a bulit-in firewall but more often than not, the setting allow almost anything get by. Changing these could save you from getting hacked and give you that peace of mind we keep talking about.
Avoid Sensitive Information
It’s a good idea to never enter any sensitive information into your browser while connected to open Wi-Fi. It’s also a good idea to never enter sensitive info while you’re in a public place, as you never know who is watching, be it hacker or “peeping tom”. So try and avoid everything from logging into PayPal, Internet banking or even openly entering your email password. If you have to enter some private info ASAP with no other choice but an open Wi-Fi connection, make sure the website is secure by checking the web address for HTTPS. As the “S” stands for “Secure”, this website should be safe to use.
Turn It Off
If you’re done doing what you needed to do on the net but your laptop is still on, remember to turn off your Wi-Fi. Even if you’re laptop is closed, it might just be asleep, so when connected to an open Wi-Fi, always disconnect and turn off your Wi-Fi when you’re done, cutting off all connection between your laptop and the unknown. Make sure to disable as soon as you’re done to avoid any criminal activity. Some open Wi-Fi connections let your laptop remember their password and will automatically connect when you’re in the area. So be aware that you don’t click the “automatically connect” button.
Nothing’s safe these days, but following these simple tips could save you a lot of trouble and keep your laptop secure and for your eyes only when you’re out and about using open Wi-Fi connections. Make sure you only connect to safe and reliable connections no matter how desperate you are for your internet fix, never log on to an unknown Wi-Fi connection. They may just be hackers waiting for you to do just that.
Author Byline: This is a guest post by Gene Adams, online security expert from Drm remover software team. Gene loves to review security tips, DDoS protection techniques and security software. Keep your eyes open and happy surfing!