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10 Tips to Use Public Wi-Fi Safely

Free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi means that you have to protect yourself.

Using Public Wi-Fi

Using public Wi-Fi in places like a coffee shop, airports, libraries, you need to take steps to secure your information. With public Wi-Fi, you are sharing the network with other people. People that your sharing the network with, can steal your information. Here are several tips to help keep you safe online.

Tips for Public Wi-Fi Connections

  1. Turn sharing off, when not at home. If using a Windows PC, open Control Panel > Network and Internet > Home Group > Advanced Settings. While in the advanced settings, you can turn off sharing in each option. You want to turn network discovery off, also. With Mac, System Preferences > Sharing, the boxes should not be checked.
  2. Enable your firewall. Windows OS, Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Firewall. Mac, System Preferences > Security and Privacy > Firewall. Turn the firewall on, if not already. This will help monitor connections going in and out from your computer.
  3. Have strong passwords. A long mix of numbers and letters, using upper and lowercase, make strong passwords. Using a weak password, opens you up as an easy target. Use a different password for each account.
  4. Use a virtual private network (VPN). You have the security as though the network you are on is private. This is done by your activity being routed through a separate, private secure network. There are free and paid VPN’s. This is the most secure way to stay protected.
  5. If possible, use SSL and HTTPS. When just HTTP is used to exchange text over a network, it is plain text. All information sent and received is encrypted when enabling SSL, or using HTTPS. Some sites automatically use it. Look in the address bar, for an ‘s’ for secure, after the ‘http’. Look each time the page changes, some sites use it on the sign in page only.
  6. Check name of network. If you are not sure of the name of the network, ask a person that works there. Many do not use the name of their business.  This is a common way hackers trick you to sign into the wrong network by making a network with an enticing or similar name.
  7. When not in use, turn Wi-Fi off. When using Mac, click icon on menu bar, the option AirPort needs to be checked off. Windows, click the icon on your task bar off.  When WiFi is on, your computer might automatically connect to an available network.
  8. Keep anti-virus software running. Keep up-to-date, and on to prevent viruses, or registry file modification.
  9. Have MAC address access restricted. Some people might say restricting this does not give real protection, but it does. Best to use all precautions.
  10. Two-factor authentication do when possible. You will receive a code on your phone or e-mail, for most sites. Use this and your password.

You can never be 100% safe when using public Wi-Fi. Try not to use sites that contain your financial information while on any public network. Either use the your phones 3G or 4G, or wait until you are on a private network. Remember, check out how to create a strong, secure password or find out when you should change your passwords for additional protection. Your home’s Wi-Fi connection is usually secured.

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