You may have found that WiFi, or wireless local area network, has made you both more productive and more able to enjoy your leisure time. With a laptop and a WiFi (the name isn’t an abbreviation but rather a play on the stereo term HiFi), you no longer have to be a desk to get work done. And those layovers in airports aren’t as excruciating anymore. But with that convenience comes a price: questionable security. Here are some tips to help you understand how to protect yourself when using public WiFi.
Make sure your security software is current
Not only do you need to have software in place, you also need to make sure you have downloaded all the updates. Also check to make sure your firewall is turned on.
Choose the WiFi network carefully
If you are going to access free WiFi, ask an employee of the location for the name and password of the network. Identity thieves create their own networks to pillage your information that may “look” like one provided by coffee shop, airport, etc. Also make sure your laptop doesn’t automatically connect to a network, since this could also leave you at the mercy of a hacker. In addition, never use a computer-to-computer connection.
Stick to WPA2-protected networks
When you log on to a network, the level of protection given is displayed next to where you enter your password to connect. WPA2, or WiFi Protected Access version two, is stronger than previous safety technologies.
Don’t do your banking on public WiFi
As a general rule, you shouldn’t expose any sensitive information to potential identity thieves via public networks. For as common as it has become, the tech powers that be have yet to find a way to guarantee true privacy on WiFi. So far, the evidence indicates that if you need to do banking on the go, doing it on a smartphone or tablet would be a more secure option than public WiFi.
In fact, it’s best to avoid any site that requires a password
Experiments have shown that it is terrifyingly easy for hackers to access passwords you have entered while at a public computer. So to genuinely safe, it’s best to not log-in to any sites if you can avoid it.
Look for the “s”
If you absolutely must use a website that requires a log-in, make sure it is a site that offers encryption of your information. The best way to tell is to look at the full address of the website. If it’s secure, the address will begin with “https” instead of the unsecured “http.”
Don’t ignore security warnings from your computer
When we are trying to get work done quickly, it’s tempting to just close any alert messages that pop up. But if your computer is telling you that something dangerous is going on, pay attention.
Turn off your WiFi when you can
If you’re only doing things like watching a movie or working on a document or spreadsheet, there is no need to stay connected to WiFi. Access your computer’s Control Panel area and disable the WiFI to save battery life and make your information safer.
Consider using VPN software
Virtual private network (VPN) software is used when sensitive information needs to sent from remote locations, mostly by businesses. If you absolutely must use public WiFi when traveling, VPNs can encrypt your information as it travels through the ether.