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Public WiFi Security

7 Security Tips for Public Wi-Fi Users

Public Wi-Fi is a convenient location to peruse the Internet at your leisure, whether you’re in the airport, traveling across town, on a business trip with coworkers or friends, or even at work.

The risk of exposing yourself to malicious hackers and their information-stealing malware is nearly nonexistent when you’re at such close proximity with other users of public Wi-Fi.

I’m here to tell you that there are highly important precautions that all public Wi-Fi users should take. Whether you’re using your home Wi-Fi network, a cafe or hold of a coffee shop, airport Wi-Fi, a hotel or server room, or even at a conference, these steps will improve your ability to stay safe and secure.

All this security advice commences with the very first step of taking note of the source of the public Wifi that you’re connected to. It’s important to double check where and from whom you’re connecting over public Wi-Fi before enabling any sort of connection.

When connected to a network, you will be able to access it in the form of a URL. If the network you’re connected to doesn’t have an SSL certificate or has a self-signed certificate, it’s highly possible that your web browser will be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.

When you see a URL that has an SSL certificate, this should be your first indication that you’re connected to a secure network. This is the url for Google’s Wi-Fi, which is secure: https://www.google.com/loc/wifi/. You’ll notice that there is no s at the end of http when you’re connected to a secure wi-fi network.

You can also view the Certificate Authority for each site in order to check its authenticity as well.
Another thing to consider is that public Wi-Fi networks are often much less secure than your own personal wireless connection at home.

This means that privacy may be compromised and so should any sensitive information be transmitted over such a network.

Browsing the internet is one of the most important tasks to accomplish when connected to public Wi-Fi, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. Simply accessing Facebook on your favorite browser could put you at risk for downloading malicious software or having your privacy invaded.

You’ll want to ensure that you’re not downloading any viruses or other malware from this network. As I mentioned before, this is one of the most common risks that users are exposed to when they connect to public Wi-Fi.

This is especially true if you’re connecting with a public hotspot at a café or airport, or in a hotel room without a secured router or connection. If you work with packet analyzers, you’ll be able to look at the headers to make sure the data that you’re sending off is accurate.


Tips for Public Wi-Fi Users

Disable Auto-Play on Downloaded Content

When you download a file from the internet, it’s common to enable the auto-play functionality. This will allow the file to play automatically when it’s downloaded, which opens up your system and makes it vulnerable to malware infections.

The first thing you should do is disable this functionality for any files that you download from public Wi-Fi. Don’t allow automatic play for any files that are downloaded over a public Wi-Fi network.


Turn off Any of Your Wireless Devices that you’re Not Using Over Public Wi-Fi

If you’re connected to public Wi-Fi, you should never access any accounts that have your personal login information. Especially avoid logging into your online banking or work accounts. If a hacker is trying to steal your information, they can set up software on the network to intercept login details as they’re typed in by a user.

You’ll also want to consider that a hacker could be connecting to your computer on the public Wi-Fi network and watching as you browse and do your work. Online surveillance is the main reason why so many hackers are interested in stealing information from public networks.

Another issue with public Wi-Fi is that it could be infected with malware, meaning that your computer system can be compromised by a malicious hacker. If this happens, you might not even be aware of it at first.

In order to protect your privacy, you’ll want to turn off any wireless devices that are not being used. This is especially true if you’re using public Wi-Fi and you want to make sure your information is secure.


Turn Off Your Wi-Fi When You’re Not Using It

This is the easiest security precaution to take. If you don’t have a need for Wi-Fi at this time, simply go into your network settings and turn it off.

You should also turn off your Wi-Fi where you’re not willing to provide the connection credentials to a third-party website.

If you’re connected to a network at a café, an airport or in some other public location, there’s always the risk of data being intercepted and stolen. In this case, it’s important to always keep your computer safe and turn off any wireless devices that aren’t being used.


Use an Encryption Program

There are many programs on the market that can protect your data as it’s being transferred over public Wi-Fi. One of the most common ones is called WPA2. There are a few different ways to encrypt your files, but this is one of the best because it’s built into Windows and can be accessed by every standard Wi-Fi connection.

Setting up encryption is easy. To do so, go to the Wi-Fi service settings and then click on the Advanced option. There you’ll find an option for WPA2-Enterprise.

Follow the steps there to encrypt your connection over a public network. Again, this is especially important if you’re using a public hotspot at a café or hotel or anywhere else where you don’t know the owner of the router that’s being used.

It’s also important to remember that you should only use encryption when you’re connected to a private network or when the network allows it. Most public networks don’t allow encryption, which means that your data can be compromised if you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network.

If you find yourself in this situation, simply opt into changing your network settings so that Wi-Fi encryption is enabled and then reconnect to the network. This will automatically make the change and provide you with a more secure connection.


Do Not Stream or Share Your Data Over Public Wi-Fi

If you’re using a public Wi-Fi network, you should never stream data or store local files on it. As I mentioned before, personal data can be stolen between your computer and the network.

This can also be done with videos too if they’re synced to your system over a public Wi-Fi network. Most of the time, the connection from your computer to the network is insecure and this could easily allow hackers access to your system.

You should also avoid sharing any information over public Wi-Fi. This includes social media accounts and other personal information that you’re accidentally storing in a “cloud” server.

You have no idea where the information stored on these servers is going or who’s looking at them, which means it’s better to keep your personal data away from the network.


Create Strong Key Passwords for Your Personal Data

It goes without saying that you should use strong passwords for all of your accounts. Passwords contain a combination of letters and numbers, which makes them difficult to break into.

Even so, it might be easy for a hacker to crack your password if they’re using a “brute force” approach. A brute force approach is where the hacker tries all possible combinations until they find the right one. This could take several hours or even days depending on the length of your password.

The better option is to create long passwords that contain both letters and numbers as well as symbols and other special characters. This relatively simple step could protect your personal data if it’s stolen while in transit over a public network.


Always Check that You’re Connected to the Correct Public Wi-Fi Network

You should always check that you’re connected to the correct public Wi-Fi network before you start doing work or browsing the web. This will ensure that you’re connected to a secure network without any malware on it.

It also protects you from hackers who could be pretending to be the owner of the Internet connection and trying to steal your data.

If you’re not sure, just disconnect and run a check online. This will show you which network you’re connected to and help you to make the connection more secure.


Do Not Turn on More than One Computer at a Time

Most people have a home or office connected to the Internet with multiple devices. And because Wi-Fi is generally private, it’s often turned on by default in homes or businesses.

But using more than one Wi-Fi device at a time is a mistake. When you’re on the wireless network, you can be connected to it for hours or even days at a time.

You’ve had no idea that your computer is actually mining away with all the data that it’s stealing while connected wirelessly, so this is a dangerous practice.

The most common way to avoid this is by turning off your computer when you’re not using it or disconnecting from the network if you don’t need it at the moment.


Keep Your Computer Up to Date

Just like most software programs and mobile devices, your computer can be affected by a virus or malware. These can cause issues with network security, so it’s important to keep your computer updated and protected.

Most antivirus programs will automatically install updates as they’re released. But if you want to make sure that you have the latest version installed, check your computer manually.

You can do this by opening Windows, clicking on the Start button and then clicking on Settings. Here you’ll find a link to check for updates.

If you don’t see an update available, make sure that your computer is connected to the Internet and then try again. Whenever possible, always download updates when they’re available.

This will help protect your operating system and all of your files from hackers who could be using their computer at the same time as yours to steal information.


Don’t Share Data that’s in Transit

If you’re using a public Wi-Fi network, you shouldn’t be sharing any information that’s in transit over the network. This includes transferring files or downloading files from an Internet server.

Even if the information is being sent over a secure connection, it can still be stolen while in transit.

There are a few ways to prevent this from happening. One is to use a hardline network connection instead of a Wi-Fi connection. This will ensure that no information is in transit over the network.

The other option is to encrypt the information so that it can’t be read by anyone else. If you have sensitive information such as credit card information, you can do this using secure websites or browser plug ins.


Locate and Disable All Network Adapters

Finally, it’s important to locate and disable all of your network adapters before using public Wi-Fi connections. This should help to prevent any information being stolen when it’s in transit over the network.

In Windows 10, you can locate and disable your adapters by going to Settings > Network and Internet > Wi-Fi.

The first option is to check all of your wireless adapters and turn off all of those that are not in use. This will filter out any unused adapters that could be causing the problem.

Then, select the adapter that needs to be disabled and click on Disable. This will de-select the adapter from the interface.

You can also disable wireless adapters from within Windows using a simple two-step process. First, launch Network Connections from the Control Panel and then select your adapter that needs to be disabled. Right-click on it after doing this and you’ll find a list of options that you can use. Select Disable, then click OK.