Public Wi-Fi is freely available in a wide range of locations, including hotels, bars, airport lounges and restaurants. However, connecting to public Wi-Fi can leave your data and sensitive information vulnerable to hackers, particularly if you don’t have the right software to protect your computer or device. Here’s how to protect your data when using public Wi-Fi connections.
Install the Newest Updates
Updates for your operating system, firmware, computer programs, apps and other software include the most recent patches and fixes for security flaws, helping to protect against the most recent threats. Keep all of your computers, mobile phones and other devices safe with the newest security updates. If you are using a laptop or computer to connect to public Wi-Fi, remember to update your Internet browser and other software, including Java and Flash Player.
Disable Sharing Options
Many computers, tablets, mobile phones and other devices allow users to share files, printers and other services with people using the same network. If you intend to use public Wi-Fi, it’s important to disable these sharing services, as they can be misused by hackers. You can turn off sharing for individual services, or you can activate tight security controls when setting up your public Wi-Fi connection.
Protect Your Devices
All of your computers and devices should be protected with antivirus and anti-malware programs to help prevent hackers gaining access to your data. You can also increase security by installing privacy apps and browser extensions that will provide extra protection against hackers.
Use a VPN
A VPN (virtual private network) protects your data by routing all of your online activities through a secure and private network. A VPN can be used to browse the Internet anonymously and to hide sensitive information from prying eyes. You can set up a VPN from any computer, mobile phone or other device with access to the Internet. VPN services, such as TunnelBear and ExpressVPN, make the process easier, but you may have to pay a subscription fee for using the services.
Avoid Entering Sensitive Information
Public Wi-Fi can be used for most online activities, but it’s best to avoid using apps or websites that require you to enter sensitive information, such as your banking or credit card passwords and usernames. Where possible, you should also avoid paying for goods using your credit or debit card, as hackers could intercept your card details and use them to make illegal purchases.
Using public Wi-Fi connections can leave your data and devices vulnerable to hackers, but there are ways to help protect your data and keep hackers at bay. Installing the most recent updates, disabling sharing options, protecting your devices, using a VPN and avoiding entering sensitive information will all increase security when using a public Wi-Fi connection.