Imagine you’re at your favorite coffee shop, and you see they offer a free wireless hotspot (WiFi). You don’t think twice about accessing it, and start visiting your favorite websites. Sometimes you access very personal information, such as your bank accounts or credit card information. What you might not consider, is the WiFi security that is offered in such public places. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to stay safe on public WiFi.
No more Sharing!
First, you will want to ensure any files you normally share, or the option for logging in remotely, is turned off. This is a very simple step to follow, so that you no longer have to wonder how to stay safe on public WiFi. Here are the steps for a Windows PC:
- Go to Control Panel.
- Once the screen opens, look for Network and Sharing Center. From here, click on the Advanced Settings option.
- Turn off any item you feel necessary, such as the Network or File sharing.
For a Mac, things are not that much different. Find the Systems tab, click on Sharing, and ensure the boxes are not marked. How easy was that? Better to be safe than sorry!
Is that Firewall up and running?
The second step for keeping safe on a public WiFi is enabling your Firewall. Since your computer is most likely running with one on, all you need to do here is ensure it is properly set up. Find the Security tab under the Control Panel, and you will be able to access the Firewall from here.
An extra S is always better
Another useful public WiFi security tip, is to use HTTPS as often as you can. When visiting one of your favorite websites, check to see if there is an S next to HTTP. If not, try to type it in. If the website does not allow for this, or if it switches back to the normal URL, you might be better off waiting until you get home. Especially consider this if you are attempting to access banking info.
Using a VPN account
In order to keep safe in a public WiFi, consider creating a VPN account. This will help you consider on how to secure a wireless router, or setting up a wireless network that works for your needs. This way, even though you are at the coffee shop with the public hotspot, you can access a private network, and keep your info safer. Depending on the VPN you choose but must choose the right VPN, expect to pay anything from $6 per month to $25 a year (or more). Some options are pricier, so make sure you do your research before signing up for one.
Another good idea is to check for any updates to the software you use. The companies that put these programs out are constantly looking for ways to better their products, and fix any security problems they might have. Always check for any available updates or upgrades to your software, and this will help you keep your information a bit safer.
So let’s recap. In order to be safe when using a public wireless hotspot, you need the following:
- Check the Sharing settings on your computer
- Check for the S on the HTTP when typing a website URL
- Enable the Firewal
- Create a VPN account
- Check for any updates on your software
By following these steps mentioned, you can rest assured that your computer and information are safer when visiting a public wireless hotspot. Keep in mind that to be even safer, some information is better to be seen at home, where you know your network is completely safe. It would be wise to keep any personal information, such as credit card numbers and bank accounts, away from prying eyes. Happy browsing!