Public Wi-Fi: How to Stay Safe and Secure Your Data

Public Wi-Fi: How to Stay Safe and Secure Your Data

Public Wi-Fi is very convenient and can be a great alternative if you’re on a tight budget. But there are security risks. [Ed. note: The following information is adapted from an infographic created by thebestvpn.]

1. Be Mindful and Proactive
Be aware and mindful of your surroundings when using your computer. An often overlooked part of public Wi-Fi security is that first word: public. Being connected to an open network doesn’t mean that attacks are limited to online intrusion. Be mindful of people who try to peek at your screen, and never leave your technology unattended.

2. Turn Off Sharing
As a practical and critical step of network security, turn off Sharing mode. By disabling this option, you will block anybody connected to the same network from snooping around in your files. By default, this is already taken care of if the network is marked “public.” Sometimes, however, you may mis-click and leave yourself exposed.

3. Use a VPN
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is known as the Holy Grail of identity protection and is the number one tool to own and implement. Living up to its name, a VPN encrypts your information, keeping it private and 100 percent anonymous. If Wi-Fi security could be summed up in one sentence, it would be: USE A VPN! [Ed. note: You must sign up for and download a VPN service. Dr. Networking can help you with this task.]

4. Verify Your Public Wi-Fi Connection
When you are first connecting to an open Wi-Fi, your first step should be to verify that you’re actually connecting to the account you think you are. It is incredibly easy for hackers to set up a fake Wi-Fi hotspot that resembles the one you want. You can easily be fooled into connecting with “La Wie” instead of “La Vie.” The last thing you want is to unknowingly connect to a hacker and give him access to your system on a silver platter.

5. Avoid High-Profile Websites and Activities
Cyber criminals will take whatever they can get, but they are especially interested in banking details, passwords, and personal information. Don’t ever login to your online banking service or Paypal account on a public Wi-Fi connection. Delay your banking activities for when you’re at home.

6. Remove Sensitive Data
This step is pretty straightforward: if you know you’re going to use public internet, make sure you remove sensitive and personal data from your system. Remove banking files, passwords, and documents showing your address or social security number from your laptop. If you have to access such a file, opt for remote access to your home system instead. Just make sure the data is not residing in the laptop you’re using in public.

7. Use SSL-Encrypted Websites
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is an advanced layer of security for establishing an encrypted link between you and a website. The security features ensure that any data you submit to an SSL-secured website remains private. Millions of websites make use of an SSL to protect their clients and readers, and websites that have set up an SSL are easily recognizable. [Ed. note: SSL sites start with https:// and often have a small icon of a padlock.]

8. Enable the Firewall
A firewall is a standard software or hardware network security system built into most operating systems. Your firewall is a “data packet filter” that monitors all incoming and outgoing traffic and connection attempts. It acts as a warden that permits only trusted networks to communicate with you. Anything fishy will get blocked by your firewall.

9. Update Your Antivirus
Keeping your antivirus up to date is imperative. The updates are vitally import to detect newly coded malware and stay one step ahead of cyber attacks.

10. Update Your System and Browser
Out-of-date browsers may harbor loopholes for hackers to exploit. Make sure that whatever browser you use is kept up to date. Even more important than updating your browser is making sure the system itself is up to date. Whether you’re running Windows, OSX, Android, or iOS, cultivate the healthy habit of regularly checking the status of your system to ensure it is current.

~ Cynthia
Article courtesy of