TrainACE - IT and Cybersecurity Training Blog

The Easiest Ways to Make Your Public Wi-Fi Connection Safer

[fa icon="calendar"] Jul 15, 2015 2:27:01 PM / by Ariana Ciancio

If you think public Wi-Fi is 100% safe, your personal information is already at risk of being stolen. Whenever you connect to a public wireless router, you’re sharing the same network as others even if it is password protected. It’s relatively simple for someone to see what you’re doing and take your data if they’re connected to the network you’re on. Fortunately, you can take some steps to safeguard your personal information.

Activating Your Firewall

Although using a firewall isn’t a sure way to avoid being hacked, it will give you an extra layer of protection while you use a public network. Firewalls essentially act as guards keeping the bad guys out and your virtual belongings safe from harm. Private data is constantly monitored, and intruders are automatically blocked. You can also install a personal firewall if you want added protection when you’re away from home.

Shutting Down the File Sharing

Sharing files is a common practice for computer users, but in a public setting, it can be an open door to data pirates. Before you connect to any public Wi-Fi, turn off your file folder and device sharing, and deactivate the network discovery. This will prevent others from accessing your files, but it will also keep hackers from sending malicious software to your computer.

Encrypting Your Email Accounts

Your email needs to be encrypted if you intend to use a public hot spot. When using a desktop email client, set the encryption settings before you access the network. Without SSL encryption, computer criminals or recreational hackers can open your messages, steal your username and password and use any other data they can discover. If you cannot get the encryption, avoid using the program on public Wi-Fi.

Using HTTPS When Browsing Websites

Like the SSL encryption, an HTTPS URL prefix allows you to hide your data from thieves. Using the unprotected HTTP connection means other people can view the text exchanges between the sites you visit. If you type a password or other private information, someone else can type it as well. Certain websites automatically switch to HTTPS, but you may have to manually enter the prefix in others.

Shutting the Wi-Fi Off

As long as you’re connected to a public network, you’re providing an opportunity for others to snoop. This is why you should shut off the wireless connection whenever you’re done using the Internet. You should also instruct your computer or mobile device to forget the public network. It will prevent an automatic connection next time you’re within range of the Wi-Fi. You may even want to set up your device so that it doesn’t automatically connect to hot spots.

Taking Additional Measures as an Administrator

Protecting sensitive information is vital in this computer world. TrainACE realizes the importance of cyber security and provides a Security+ certification training course for security and network administrators. The course includes information on executing, maintaining and supervising security practices and guidelines. It also teaches how to take action if a security breach occurs on a computer system or network.

These strategies aren’t the only ways to protect yourself, but they can make your public Wi-Fi connection safer. If you take action each time you connect to a shared network, you’ll be less vulnerable. You can manually enable each setting, but you might prefer to automate things in order to make life easier. No matter how you choose to defend your private data, always keep in mind someone could be observing your online activity.

Topics: Cisco, Cybersecurity

Ariana Ciancio

Written by Ariana Ciancio

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