How To Protect Your Computer On Public Wifi

Don’t Share Anything Private

How To Anonymously Protect Your Internet Traffic When Using Public WIFI Access

Firstly, if you have to connect to a public WiFi network with no protection measurements in place, make sure not to share anything private or log into any sensitive websites. Keep your browsing to a minimum, do not check your email or any other messaging services, and disconnect from the public WiFi immediately once you find the information you need.

How To Protect Your Phone On Public Wifi

Everything that applies to your computer also applies to your smartphone. The device is, for all intents and purposes, simply a computer that makes phone calls.

With that said, here are measures you should specifically take on your smartphone:

  • If your phone has a setting to automatically connect to WiFi, it is highly recommended you disable it. Your phone could be giving away your account information without your knowledge, which means youll only know about identity theft after it happens to you.
  • Unknown to many, there are security apps available to smartphones designed specifically for these devices. To learn more about them and what makes a good one, this resource will help.
  • You should seriously consider using your data plan, especially if your online activities take little data. Poor WiFi is often slow because it is compromised.

Tips For Staying Safe On Public Wifi Networks

Free Wi-Fi connectivity can be found almost anywhere these days. Free WiFi is, obviously, a good thing for the hundreds and thousands of people worldwide that need public Wi-Fi to access the internet. We know now, that this blessing can also be a little bit of curse.

The fact that public WiFi is always open makes it an easy target for hackers to access information being sent over them. The WiFi vulnerability is true of every public network regardless of where you are connecting from, whether it is at your favorite coffee shop, an airport, Hotel lobbies, in public transport, or anywhere.

If you dont have total control over who can connect to the network that network is public.

Dont worry this article was written to help you stay protected while you make use of any public WiFi network. But many people have the misconception that if a public WiFi has a password, then it is safe. Huh, no it is not safe.

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Why Is Open Wi

Using public Wi-Fi is one of the easiest ways for hackers to have access to lots of data from many different people in the shortest amount of time. Theres even stats on the airports most likely to be hacked. And the hackers can see everything you do online via open Wi-Fi, from what websites you visit, any data you send or links you click.

How To Safely Use Public Wi

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There are a few things you can do to protect your privacy and data when using an open Wi-Fi network.

  • Use a VPN. A virtual private network creates a secure tunnel over a public network. If your company provides VPN access, use the VPN connection to access corporate resources and create secure browsing sessions.

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How Safe Is It To Use Public Wifi With A Vpn

Both the Federal Trade Commission and Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency recommend the use of VPNs while using public WiFi. Even so, many people still wonder exactly how safe it is to use public WiFi with a VPN.

Generally, a VPN is an important security measure to have in place. But there is a vulnerability that occurs at the moment you connect to a public WiFi network.

Most public networks will allow devices to automatically connect to the WiFi. However, you must open a browser to whats called a captive portal. There, you manually agree to local terms of service before actually being allowed to access any websites.

Despite being connected to the internet and having a VPN, there is a gap in coverage after you connect to WiFi but before you can turn on your VPN. This brief period leaves you vulnerable to risks associated with public, unsecured networks.

Although you face risks during this vulnerable period, it is only for a very limited amount of time. Using a VPN in public is still much safer than logging onto a public network without any additional digital protection.

Invest In A Big Or Unlimited Data Plan

This advice isnt exactly related to staying safe while youre using public WiFi, but its nonetheless important. Basically, if youre really interested in how to protect yourself on public WiFi, one of the best things you can do is not use it at all. Instead, you should consider using your mobile data plan especially for online banking or checking your email.

Thats why we recommend getting a big or unlimited plan. Its worth the money, and youll be glad to have it when youre taking a long train or bus ride, and want to surf the web to pass the time.

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Why Isnt Public Wifi Secure

There are many reasons why public wifi spots arent secure. Perhaps the owner of the connection hasnt implemented good security. Perhaps the password gets handed out to hundreds of people a day. Public wifi hotspots are prime material for hackers since its easier to hack into computers using the same wifi connection as youre using.

Using a public wifi hotspot can but you at risk of catching a virus or getting malware, but it also allows hackers to more easily steal your data. And if youre using that hotspot to sign into your online banking or something similar, thats very bad news.

What Information Is At Risk When Using Public Wi

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The main way a hacker can take advantage of the lack of security on public Wi-Fi is through stealing your personal information. This can be anything like:

  • Your email login.
  • Your personal photos and videos.
  • Your home address.

If you connect to public Wi-Fi without a VPN, you could potentially be leaving yourself open for criminals to access any sensitive data stored on your device.

Below is a list of ways a hacker can take advantage of an unsecured Wi-Fi network:

  • Evil Twin attack. Its easy to rename routers to literally anything. Cybercriminals will create fake Wi-Fi networks to fool you into connecting. Youd probably connect to a public Wi-Fi called Starbucks_Wifi_Free in a heartbeat without knowing that a hacker might be running it.
  • Malware injection. An insecure connection may result in difficult-to-detect malware slipping into your computer. It can steal your bandwidth, damage your system, and provide hackers with a backdoor to all your personal files.
  • Man-in-the-middle . The cybercriminal places their device between the connection with your device and the Wi-Fi spot. This discreetly allows them to monitor your activity and even control your traffic, potentially redirecting you to a site of theirs that will fool you into entering your credentials or banking details.
  • Wi-Fi sniffing. More of a passive act rather than an active assault like MITM. With the use of basic and legal software, a hacker can monitor and log all data packets passing through a Wi-Fi network.

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Encrypt Your Connection With A Vpn

Virtual Private Network services act as a middleman between your computer and the rest of the Internet. In the process of connecting, VPNs encrypt your data. If you connect to public Wi-Fi and suffer a MITM attack, hackers would have to spend time and energy decoding your data because of the VPNs encryption.

VPNs are resilient against packet sniffing as well. VPNs encrypt your packets so that a hacker cant read it. With a VPN, your computer sends packets to the VPNs server before moving towards the destination. The VPN encrypts each packet, so no hacker can read them between the VPN server and the website youre visiting.

If your computer is already compromised, a VPN wont protect you from hackers. For example, if theres already spyware on your computer, hackers can read the data before a VPN has a chance to encrypt it. You can protect yourself from this with antivirus and firewall software.

How To Protect Your Privacy On Public Wi

There would be obvious security risks to allowing a network that level of control over your computer just from connecting. If a network requires you to login on a page or agree to a license agreement for access, you must manually open your browser and attempt to access the internet to trigger the interstitial login screen.

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Equip Your Devices With Antivirus/antimalware Protection

One of the best ways to boost your public WiFi security is to make sure all the devices you use to connect to a public network have antimalware/antivirus software installed on them. Dont worry about the different names both types of software do the same thing. Dont forget a virus is a type of malware.

Since it can be easy to become exposed to malware and virus infections if youre using an unsecured network thats also infected, its paramount to make sure you have a way to protect yourself from such threats. Essentially, antivirus/antimalware solutions can easily stop a malicious threat from infecting your device.

There are plenty of antivirus/antimalware software providers to choose from, but our recommendations are Malwarebytes and ESET.

Oh, and be sure to keep your security program up-to-date all the time. Its the only way it can keep up with the latest malware threats.

Use Security Applications & Extensions

6 WiFi Security Tips to Stay Safe on Public Networks

Beyond your device settings, there are some extra applications, extensions, and services that are worth downloading to enhance your security on public WiFi networks.

HTTPS Everywhere is a great free browser extension. Its available on Chrome, Firefox, and Opera and will push websites to use secure HTTPS connections wherever possible.

If youre using Firefox, DNS over HTTPS is a worthwhile protection to have. Weve seen that DNS requests are still exposed during HTTPS connections, so DNS over HTTPS covers over those cracks by encrypting your DNS queries.

EXPERT TIP:You can find the DNS over HTTPS settings in the Network settings on your Firefox browser.

The Enable DNS over HTTPS setting on Firefox

You should invest in some reliable security software, too . These products offer virus and ransomware protection along with the ability to thoroughly clean your device of any malware or spyware you may have already picked up.

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How To Protect Yourself On Public Wifi

If youre often heading out to cafes or libraries for study or work, you need to know how to protect yourself on public Wi-Fi.

Dont think connecting to free public Wi-Fi wont cost you anything. If unsecured, you could be putting your personal information and yourself at great risk.

Not sure how to use public Wi-Fi safely? Is it even safe to use public Wi-Fi?

Read on to find out some must-know public Wi-Fi safety tips.

Tip : Make Sure Websites You Visit Have Https Protocols

Firstly, what is HTTPs? HTTPs protocol means that the flow of data or traffic between the browser on your laptop and the remote server where the website is stored, is encrypted.

When travelling you might think your web browsing is harmless. You might log onto public wi-fi to check opening times for a local attraction, check for a great bar or restaurant near your hotel or check the weather conditions. But when combined with other information, cyber-criminals could determine, for example, when your hotel room will be empty because you are going to a restaurant. But is that all you are doing on your laptop when travelling? Have you done any of the following:

  • Logged into internet banking
  • Booked a tour using your credit card
  • Booked a restaurant providing your contact information
  • Logged into your social media accounts
  • Logged into your email

Having HTTPs on a website you visit is particularly important when visiting a website where you need to enter a username and password. But it also important to make sure that all pages on the website you visit use HTTPs and not just the login or home page.

How does a website show its protected?

Sites such as banks, web based email, airlines, hotel bookings and social media usually use secure sites.

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Dont Keep Wifi On After Disconnecting From A Network

As tempting as it is to keep your WiFi enabled on your device while youre out and about, its better if you dont do that. Why? Because your device might accidentally connect to a fake WiFi network thats run by a cybercriminal.

How? Well, its pretty simple when you connect to a WiFi network, disconnect, and then leave, your device will memorize said networks SSID so that it can automatically reconnect to it when you reach its WiFi signal again. The problem is that even if you are out of that networks range, your device will continue broadcasting a signal that pretty much asks nearby WiFi networks if they have the same SSID as the network you previously used.

If a cybercriminal sets up a fake WiFi network that imitates that networks SSID, your device will be tricked into connecting to it. If you happen to do any online banking, check your email, or browse social media while connected to the malicious network, all your traffic and data can be monitored and stolen.

Okay but something like that is hard to set up for a hacker, right?

Not really theres actually a device called the WiFi Pineapple that can allow cybercriminals to perform such attacks. Worst of all its available for as little as $200. The tool is normally used by people who are paid by companies to attack their own networks to find vulnerabilities, but hackers can use them too for their own nefarious purposes.

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Public WiFi is undoubtedly what the current generation of internet users need. That means WiFi is a necessity today. But you need to understand the dangers it has, too.

Accessing WiFi isnt a big problem when at home. In fact, its easy and secure to connect. Moreover, it usuallys uncongested. However, whenever you venture out, the story is different.

Free public WiFi is almost everywhere. In public libraries, airports, coffee shops, and even national grocery stores now have free WiFi hotspots.

Theyve merely made life a little easier, but did you know that public WiFi poses some serious security risks to your personal information on your smartphone and laptop?

Theres no denying that the urge to connect to a free internet down the street and surf the web while taking your cup of coffee is compelling.

Picture this.

Youre sited in that coffee shop down the street taking your favorite cup of coffee on a pleasant morning, you havent read the emails, and youre in a free network zone. Usually, most folks connect without even giving it a second thought. But, unfortunately, the risks associated with public WiFi indeed outweigh the benefits.

But whats public WiFi? Are public WiFi networks safe?

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