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 that trick people into joining their network by looking like the name of that location, 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 the ‘Public Network’ option.
When you’re at work or home you will almost certainly share files, folders & printers, yet on public Wi-Fi you defintely don’t want this. So, if you go to this location you can ensure the network discovery and file/printer sharing is turned off.
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.
It is best to leave these until at home, but if it’s necessary, ensure you have enabled two factor authentication. These can be hardware or a mobile app as shown below.
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.
When using Outlook, Thunderbird etc ensure the SSL settings are setup in your mail program. If not then people could potentially access username, password and almost anything else they want.
Your work email should be secure, but if in doubt speak with your IT or email provider. If it isn’t secure then keep your email program closed when on public networks.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) enables you to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if you were directly connected to the private network.
If you are accessing your work systems, you should always be using 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 a public network. You will be much safer when using it.
You can never protect yourself entirely but by following the steps above, 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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