How to Protect Yourself When Using Public Wi-Fi
We all use public Wi-Fi. Whether it’s with our laptops or phones, at a local cafe or on vacation, we all use Wi-Fi if we can. But the truth is that public Wi-Fi is far from safe.
Wi-Fi networks try to protect you from external threats, but they don’t protect you from internal ones. Many people could be using the same public Wi-Fi spot as you, and you don’t know who they are, or what their intentions are.
Being connected to the same spot with others makes you more vulnerable to attacks.
If you find yourself regularly using public Wi-Fi, the following precautions could save you from a world of trouble:
Only Use Public Wi-Fi if You Must
This should go without saying, but if you don’t have to use public Wi-Fi, then don’t. If you have your own network on your phone or computer, just use it. It’s far safer.
Make sure that you connect to a familiar Wi-Fi network
You might be tempted to connect to any point that is open, but this means you can accidently connect to a malicious access point. In such cases you will be asked to like a page on Facebook, or be asked for information. In both cases, you should avoid pressing “like,” or giving out any information, as someone might be trying to steal your online identity.
Stay as Anonymous as Possible
If you have to connect to a public Wi-Fi, don’t browse websites that require usernames and passwords. This is doubly true for important websites such as your bank website. Wait until you get home, to your secure network, before logging in to check your account. Also, generally avoid saving passwords on your computer. We know it’s less convenient, but it will make your computer safer.
‘S’ is for Safety
If you have to use a website that requires a user name and password, use HTTPS. HTTPS sites are safer then HTTP. Some websites, such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter use it automatically. For other websites, just insert the S after the HTTP to boost security.
Set Appropriate Network Settings
Define the network that you’re connecting to as public. This step will protect your computer – to a degree – from malicious software on the internet.
Use an Antivirus with Firewall
Install a good firewall and make sure it is turned on whenever you connect to a public Wi-Fi spot. A recommended choice in this case is McAfee Internet Security, which includes a two-way firewall that protects your computer by monitoring the information sent and received. This way you can make sure that the wrong person won’t receive any information from your computer.
Never download software while using a public Wi-Fi. You could easily download a virus or malware. A good antivirus, like McAfee LiveSafe will keep you safe in case of such an accident.
Use a VPN
A VPN will route your activity through a private network, giving you an extra layer of protection.
Turn Your Wi-Fi Off After
Don’t forget to turn off the Wi-Fi at the end of the session. Also, it’s best to delete the network from your memory, so that your computer won’t connect to it automatically when the network is in range. Generally it’s best to turn off your Wi-Fi scanner on your computer or phone at all times, unless you’re actively using them.
Modern antivirus software is designed with the vulnerabilities of constant internet connection in mind. Check out our top picks and get protected today.