Online Privacy

How to stay safe on Public Wifi

How to stay safe on Public Wifi

Are you a public of Wi-Fi? It’s convenient but can also cause security issues. If you want to stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks here are some helpful tips:

1. Switch off file sharing/AirDrop

Even when you can’t control what’s on the Wi-Fi network, you’re using it’s possible to control your PC/Mac. Your desktop/laptop probably has file-sharing options that make the assumption you’re on a safe network. There are some steps you can take. Switch off file sharing in Windows/ macOS, turn on built-in firewalls, and minimize your use of web-connected apps/services. If you’re a Mac user, you can pick the contacts-only setting AirDrop, and this is something you should probably do anyway.

2. Use safe Wi-Fi networks

Not all public Wi-Fi networks are high risk. For example, if you get free Wi-Fi at places like stores or coffee shops they’re lower risk than free airport Wi-Fi, for example. If you use local Wi-Fi networks, you can enjoy better performance and somewhat better security. However, keep in mind the improvements are relative since it’s still public web connectivity.

3. Practice good web hygiene

This is one of the most important steps to take when using public Wi-Fi. This will help to boost your privacy. Avoid working with sensitive data online when you’re on public Wi-Fi. Avoid options like doing online banking with this network since you’ll be sending personal/financial info. This is a much bigger risk than reading news or blogs, for example.

4. Install privacy browser extensions

A good option is to add an ad blocker that allows you to control what you block and don’t block. Another good option is disconnect since it protects you from things like click-jacking and session hijacking. These are major security threats and can allow hackers to access things like your Facebook or Amazon account. That’s even possible if you’re doing secure browsing.

5. Use Wi-Fi networks that are semi-open

In the case, you have options about the Wi-Fi networks you use you should consider a semi-open Wifi instead of a 100% open network. Some options include locations like coffee shops and airport lounges. Other things to look for are passwords on receipts and hidden SSIDs. You can also get passwords at places like Yelp, FourSquare, or Google Places.

Another option is to try to ask about semi-open Wi-Fi at places like coffee shops, library desks, and airport information desks. This is the most transparent way although there are some other ways to make your wireless connectivity more obscure.

6. Switch off Wi-Fi when not using it

An old online security rule is to avoid web connectivity when you don’t need it. When you’re done accessing the Internet switch off Wi-Fi on your desktop/laptop or tablet/smartphone. This can help to protect your device when using public Wi-Fi and can also save battery power. You can also set your laptop to switch Wi-Fi back on automatically after a short time.

Another option is to download local email/documents so you can work on them offline when there’s no web connectivity. You can also use Google Drive offline or watch a movie/listen to music.

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