How to make public Wi-Fi as private as possible

Security

“More often than not, people have the tendency to overlook the fact that public Wi-Fi is exactly that – public,” Tom Gaffney, Security Advisor for F-Secure UK & Ireland, wrote on the Huffington Post Tech Blog. “It offers no real privacy at all.”

As our Great Politician Hack showed, using a public Wi-Fi hotspot can expose your browsing history and possibly even your login credentials to interested hackers. But Gaffney points out that you can enjoy the convenience of public connections and privacy if you’re proactive.

Here are the steps he suggests:

1. Use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi. [We recommend Freedome for this, of course.]
2. Don’t let your device connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots automatically and delete existing Wi-Fi access point when you get home.
3. When using a business’s Wi-Fi network, check with the establishment you’re at to make sure the network you log onto is really theirs and not one a hacker has set up to trick you.
4. If you don’t have a VPN running, assume anything you do over public Wi-Fi is part of a public conversation.
5. Use unique and complex passwords for all of your most important accounts. [A password manager like F-Secure KEY makes this easier.]
6. Be careful clicking on web-links. Better to browse the web address by typing into the search engine of your browser. Check to make sure it’s a safe connection (you’re looking for a padlock and ‘https’ in the browser address bar), which means secured and that you’re on the domain you are meant to be on.
7. Check your apps permission to see what information you are sharing on Wi-Fi.
8. Keep your system, browsers, applications and security software patched and updated. [This goes for your PC our mobile device and our Booster can help you do this for free.]

It’s a lot to think about when you’re just thinking about getting online so think of this as a step-by-step process. Just by starting with number 1, you’re take a huge step toward protecting your privacy.

[Image by Owen Moore | Flickr]

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