The big question surrounding many of you when you access public Wi-Fi and how safe it actually is? The answer to that is: Of course, not. But if you have to use the free wireless at Starbucks or your hotel, take note of these few precautions which would reduce the risk of your information being leaked.
Beware Of Fake Networks
The first thing you should do whenever you use the public Wi-Fi is to check the network name; ask the staff. “You mught see ‘Free-Starbucks-wifi,’ but the chances it being fake is high,” says Jérôme Segura, a lead malware intelligence analyst at internet security software maker Malwarebytes. You will be able to get online though, just like how a Wi-Fi should do, except all your traffic and behavior would be visible to hackers or those with bad intents.
Get Your Own Private Network
You have heard of home users bypassing certain sites even if the site is blocked in the area they’re living in. That’s because they’re using a software known as virtual personal network (VPN), which establishes an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic. It’s popular among home-users but it isn’t invulnerable, so you should stick to using https websites which is better but still, your safety isn’t guaranteed. In any case you’re trying on VPN, do look for those that offers an anti-malware scanner and a mobile app.
Keep it impersonal
The one golden rule of using public connections is never do online-banking or anything that relates to your personal information. Obvious, right? But it is also advisable that you don’t check your email even, which could possible give hackers access to tons of personal info. This even applies to secure websites, those with https (hypertext transfer protocol secure) in the URL. According to David Lee, a product manage for mobile at security software company Norton says that, “Public hotspots are susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks, – in which case the hacker intercepts communications, stripping of the ‘secure’ part of https.”
Use Your Phone
We’re in the age where not having a smartphone and a data plan makes you weird. Most of you would probably be snapping a picture and posting on Instagram with that internet connectivity you have. Why not use it as a hotspot as well for your other devices, which offers a secure connection (much more secured than public Wi-Fi). It does have a downside though, which you might have guessed: First, you’re at the mercy of your telco’s performance and data rates. Second, the websites you’re looking at will still know who you are and the device you are using which makes using VPN the very more important for you to be completely anonymous.
Essentially, it is always the best idea to use your own internet connection rather than the public Wi-Fi. This is not to say that you should entirely drop public connections, which would be useful when you’re travelling or you can just get a budget smartphone to act as a hotspot where you go. Check it out below.
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