BY MOHIT SHARMA, CONTENT WRITER, MALWAREFOX
Open Wi-Fi networks are a dream for all of us. They allow us to use the web from pretty much anywhere and no matter how you look at it, this is very convenient.
However, as useful as they are, a whole lot of people are connected to them and that poses a significant security threat. All you need is one person with the right knowledge and the wrong intentions for this dream to turn into a nightmare.
Here are 5 tips for a safer experience with open Wi-Fi networks.
All in all, the 5 tips are to:
1. Watch out for fake/malicious access points.
2. Be careful with your privacy and the websites which you visit.
3. Use a VPN.
4. Turn off file sharing.
5. Use anti-malware program.
Watch out for Fake Access Points
Before connecting to an open Wi-Fi, you’ve to make sure that you’re connecting to an actual network and not a trap.
This is a method that cybercriminals use to steal information. It could be anything from the login credentials of your social network account to your banking information.
The process is pretty simple, they only create a hotspot of their own, and anyone who connects and uses it will be providing his/her information to the cybercriminal.
The easiest way to avoid them is asking those who work at the airport, cafeteria, or wherever you are, the exact name of their hotspot.
That’s how you will know that you’re connecting to the correct hotspot and not on a fake one.
Careful With your Privacy
Avoid connecting to websites which host sensitive information as much as possible. For example, do try to stay away from your e-banking website.
Other people who are connected will be able to see what you’re doing if they know how to do so.
If the websites which you visit don’t feature HTTPS, then anyone would be able to steal your login credentials.
All in all, do be careful with the websites which you visit when you’re on a public network. If you find yourself frequently using public networks, then consider using a VPN.
Use a VPN
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It encrypts our sessions which prevents anyone from spying on us or stealing our login credentials. And that comes extremely in handy when using public networks.
Surprisingly enough, that also includes the government and our ISP. (Internet Service Provider)
As a side note, do keep in mind that while a VPN does indeed prevent the government from spying on us, it won’t protect us in case that they came after us – if we give them any reason to do so.
Any VPN provider would rather lose a customer rather than facing jail time because someone abused their services.
Now, a VPN is as secure as its provider. And that’s why we don’t recommend using free VPNs. It’s better if you opt for something like Express VPN even if it does cost a little something.
Turn off File Sharing
Windows should automatically configure an open Wi-Fi as a public network which will turn off file sharing on its own.
However, do double check your network properties just to be sure. Having file sharing enabled and your computer discoverable while you’re on an open network, makes it super easy for other people to steal your data.
As far as I know, Android devices don’t have a similar feature pre-installed. If you’ve got a Mac, go to your system preferences, click on “sharing”, and make sure that all kinds of sharing are turned off.
Use Security Programs
A security program such as MalwareFox is always recommended no matter the situation. As for public networks in particular, if you’ve got file sharing enabled, then someone might manage to install a malicious program on your computer.
And that could be anything from spyware which steals all of your information to a virus that prevents your computer from booting just for the laughs. All in all, security programs are the most basic thing that the average PC user should have.
About the Author
Hello, I am Mohit. With a strong passion for cybersecurity, I am a content developer at MalwareFox and would like to invite you on this learning journey where we will explore the latest technology and hot cybersecurity topics to stay secure and vigilant against all forms of cyber-attacks.