In case you find yourself in need of internet access while your network isn’t available for some reason, rest assured because most cities provide free public Wi-Fi networks. Today, we can access Wi-Fi in more places than ever.
Although this is comforting to know, are you aware that using a public Wi-Fi hotspot may pose a risk to your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop data as well as to yourself? According to Kaspersky Security Network research on unsecured Wi-Fi networks across the world, 25% of the world’s Wi-Fi networks have no encryption or password protection. Simply put, the data they transfer is open and can be read by third parties.
Using an unsecured public Wi-Fi may put your device at risk, so you need to be very cautious whether you are connected to the hotspot at your local coffee shop, a restaurant, a company or municipality. Either way, you may lose your data or your device might get infected by harmful viruses and other malicious software. Malware and viruses can inflict severe damage on your phone or laptop software that can be handled only in specialized repair services.
To prevent these unpleasant situations from happening and stay safe online, follow these useful tips:
Disabling automatic wireless connections
To limit the potential damage from public Wi-Fi always make sure to disable auto-connecting to open networks on your mobile phone or other devices you may use. This way, you will avoid unwanted connection to an unsecured public network.
Connecting to a public Wi-Fi can put you at risk, so verify the network you are using at all times. Also, if you are connecting to a hotspot at a coffee shop or a restaurant, ask the staff whether the network is legitimate. Hackers often set up fake hotspots with a similar name, so take some safety precautions like verifying the authenticity of the network. Through a fake network, hackers can gain access to your personal information and other sensitive data, and more – they can use your device to carry out unauthorized online activities without you being notified.
Turn off network sharing
The next step to take after you verify the network is to disable file-sharing feature to prevent other people on the network from accessing your files.
If the file-sharing option is enabled on your device while you are on a public network, a hacker can send you files infected with malware and access your files as well. For instance, you may get fake warnings of a system upgrade. By downloading them, you install malware that can provide hackers with access to your private information like photos, documents, etc.
The importance of antivirus software
To protect your computer from malicious software always use antivirus software. These valuable apps can detect any fishy activity and alert you.
If your laptop or another device gets infected while surfing online through a public network and you notice some irregularities and issues with your device, make sure to contact an expert laptop repair service in order to prevent damage and data loss.
Antivirus apps act as a barrier between your device and malicious software. There is a wide range of antivirus software you can choose from, but it is essential to update regularly and to use the latest versions of this software.
Use a VPN
To stay safe and secure online on all your devices set up a Virtual Private Network or VPN that protects your privacy. How does it work? A VPN hooks your phone or your laptop to a secure server operated by the VPN Company and encrypts data traveling from and to your device, allowing you to work safely no matter where you are.
There are paid and free VPN software available on the market. Since public Wi-Fi connections are usually unencrypted providing hackers access to your personal information, it is worth investing in a good VPN. Buying longer-term contracts usually get you a discount. If you are on a budget, you can opt for a free VPN service, but take into account that they might have a marketing or data collection purpose as well. Most free versions offer data limits, while some may add unwanted toolbars or third-party applications.
Some services offer a free trial for a limited time so you can try out the service before making the final decision. For an independent review on VPN comparison visit That One Privacy Site.
Turn on the firewall
Ensure that a firewall is enabled on your devices. It blocks hackers and harmful forces from your device. Firewalls provide an essential layer of security by filtering unwanted network traffic while allowing the flow of legitimate communication. You can add or remove filters and customize firewall configuration to your preferences. For instance, you may choose to block access to specific domain names.
While you are surfing the net through a public Wi-Fi avoid logging into websites such as online banking services or any other websites that store your credit card information. Avoiding the specific type of websites like social networks can reduce or eliminate identity and password theft.
The internet has opened a whole world of opportunities and has changed our everyday lives forever. It has revolutionized communications making it easier than ever to stay in touch or catch up, but there are some safety concerns you need to be aware of when browsing online. As reported by Public Wi-Fi Usage Survey, 40% of the respondents indicated no concern or felt fairly safe about using public networks. Keeping your data safe on public networks should be a priority because your valuable personal or company information can be easily accessible and vulnerable to hackers.
The general tip would be to avoid public Wi-Fi as much as you can because no public network is absolutely secure. It is better to use a smartphone as a hotspot. If you can’t avoid public networks, make sure you are well protected while surfing online by following the simple steps listed above. Staying cautious and adding layers of security can save you from lots of troubles in the future.
Bily Bum is an electrical engineer, tech, and gaming fan with 15 years of experience in the technology world. He is also a contributor on site Technivorz.