How to be safer on Public Wi-Fi

We all use Public Wi-Fi – either at our favourite coffee shop or attending a conference at a hotel. This puts your data at risk as information is transmitted across an open public wi-fi network.

Firstly ensure you connect to the real WiFi Network of that location. There are “Phishing” networks to trick people into joining their network by looking like the name of that location, then the hackers then have full access to your computer and data.

When joining a new public Wi-Fi network for the first time you will always want to choose this option:

How to be safer on Public Wi-Fi

When you’re at work or home you will almost certainly share files, folders & printers, so if you go to this location you can ensure the network discovery and file/printer sharing is turned off.

How to be safer on Public Wi-Fi

Secure Websites

Check they are https:// as per the image below. If not you are sending your data in plain text over the open public wi-fi network.

How to be safer on Public Wi-Fi

Financial transactions

It is best to leave these until at home, but if you must ensure you have two factor authentication. These can be hardware or a mobile app as shown below.

How to be safer on Public Wi-FiHow to be safer on Public Wi-Fi

There is no reason to risk more than you have to! Most banks also offer secure apps you can use on your mobile device that are worth looking into.

Speak to your bank to get the most secure option you can.

Email Programs

When using Outlook, Thunderbird etc ensure the SSL settings are setup in your mail program. If not then people could potentially access username, password or anything else they wanted. Your email provider has to allow it – but as long as it does you can check the box to maximise protection.
Your work email should be secure but if in doubt speak with your I.T or email provider and if it does not then close the email program when on a public network.

Use a VPN

if you are going to be using an open network for an extended period of time, such as a hotel for a week, you could use CyberGhost – a free tool that you can install and turn on whenever you are on that public network, you will be much safer when using it.

If you are accessing your work systems, you should be using a VPN anyway.

There are also several tools available to manage networks on a machine if you would like to try one of those – NetSetMan would be a good place to start. They are fairly intuitive and allow you to manage the settings for each network more easily.

You can never protect yourself entirely.

By following the above steps you make your device more difficult for hackers to access. Most hackers will bypass the protected computers and focus on those that aren’t

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