How To Stay Safe While Using Public WiFi

WiFi has had a significant impact on your work habits. It is the very gateway to your professional success when outside the home or office. Yet if you use public networks you face the very real threat of cybercrime ranging from identity theft to malware insertion. While the public access point allows you to connect to the internet, it also allows anyone in the vicinity to potentially intercept your information. You should not take a chance with your private and business data.

To stay safe, you should consider the following recommendations:

1. Turn Off Sharing

It is fine to share printers, files, and even permit remote login from other devices if you are on the home or office network. You when you on a public network you should deactivate all sharing and remote login options to your device. To enhance your security, disable network discovery (for mac and pc) to prevent anyone from seeing your device and potentially infiltrating it from there. Another option is to configure your device to automatically turn off sharing when you connect to an unsecured network for the first time.

Mac System Prference > Sharing > Uncheck “Internet Sharing”
PC Control Panel > Network & Sharing > Change advanced sharing settings > Turn off network discovery

2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) while on public WiFi is one of the best ways to secure your data. The VPN will encrypt the traffic from your device to a secure VPN server making it impossible for cybercriminals to intercept your information. All a hacker would be able to see is that you’re using a VPN. Once they see that they’ll move on to another target. If you do not have a corporate VPN, you should consider a range of consumer VPNs that provide services to professionals such as yourself.

3. Only Use HTTPS Protected Websites

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Always check that the website that you are accessing has HTTPS protection since most cybercriminals can easily take data when you are using an unprotected website. While you are at it, you should enable SSL whenever you are using applications that require an internet connection such as a cloud server. The SSL is essential because it will encrypt the connection between your device and the server.

Note that it is always advisable to only use public WiFi for websites that do not require passwords or login information. If you access your email from a desktop client, ensure that your accounts are SSL encrypted. Doing so is critical since theoretically an unencrypted email client allows anyone to get your usernames and passwords and read your emails if they wish to do so.

4. Turn Off WiFi When You’re Not Using It

To guarantee your cybersecurity in public, turn off your WiFi when you do not need it. If you do not switch off WiFi, your device could still transmit data to networks within range. As such, if you are using your computer for editing documents that do not need an internet connection keep your WiFi connection off. Doing so will ensure that your device does not automatically log into any networks that you may have accessed before. Finally, set your device to forget any networks that you log into as long as you log out or are out of range.

5. Patch Up Your Security Software

If any of your software informs you of a new update, ensure you implement it as soon as you can to keep your data safe. Ensure that your security software is up to date. The best way of doing this is by changing the settings on your operating system to allow for automatic updates of software. However, try not to update your software on public WiFi, as hackers lurking on such networks may try to trick you and install malware on your device instead of the desired updates.

It is so easy to assume that the ubiquity of WiFi makes it safe. Unfortunately, the increasing popularity of public hotspots just makes them a favorite target for hackers. Your best bet for keeping your data safe is having an understanding of the vulnerabilities in WiFi and taking precautions when using it.
Do you have anything else to add to the above tips? What security precautions and strategies do you use when you’re connected to public WiFi? Leave a comment below for fellow digital nomads and remote workers.

  • Lisa M.

    2016-04-27 at 5:38 AM Reply

    For me, PureVPN a great app and a perfect fit for those who concerned with WiFi security like myself.

  • adobe creative cloud

    2016-08-10 at 12:30 PM Reply

    VPN seems like a no brainer, but I’m trying to optimize my budget to reduce overhead and recurring expenses. Any suggestions for free VPN applications?

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