How to Protect Your Privacy on Public WiFi Networks?

by Ugnius Kiguolis - -
stay safe on public Wi-Fi network

Wi-Fi network made out lives much easier, isn’t it? Now we don’t need a wired connection to set a connection as we did several years ago. Now we can simply connect our mobile phone, personal computer, laptop, tablet or what not to the Internet remotely using a router, which spreads a Wi-Fi network. If we are using a secured Wi-Fi in our homes, office or a friend’s apartment, we are prompted to enter the password, which immediately arises the feeling of safety. Indeed, the online safety is a priority, so the question is if public Wi-Fi is safe to use? Wi-Fi hotspots, for example, at a restaurant, hair salon, train station, shopping mall, airport, etc. are very popular these days. People don’t need passwords to access them and can use the Internet for no cost. Unfortunately, the convenience of Wi-Fi hotspot usage may cost you more than money, i.e. the leak of personal information to the hands of spammers or hackers. These days, cyber crooks use Wi-Fi sniffers and other sneaky techniques to steal information like passwords, emails, addresses, browsing history, credit card details, etc. When a user access a particular website, including online banking, social network or email, while connected to the public Wi-Fi network, the log in information goes through the router and can be, therefore, stolen. To prevent this from happening, you should either avoid using public Wi-Fi or take some precautionary measures

How to minimize the dangers when using a public Wi-Fi?

Tip 1. Use a secure sites only

It’s not advisable to perform important operations, such as money transactions or simply bank balance checking while connected to the public Wi-Fi. Hackers are eager to receive credit card details, so don’t give them a chance to scam you. To prevent this from happening, use a specialized secure web browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera) and make sure to visit a secure website (marked with a padlock icon at the left side of the URL address).  Besides, make sure that the website’s name starts with the https:// because S stands for secure socket layer.

Tip 2. Turn Off Public Network sharing

  • Right-click Windows key and select Control Panel.
  • Open Network and Sharing center and click Change Advanced Sharing Settings.
  • Select Public profile and turn off File Sharing, Network Discovery, and Public Folder Sharing.

Network sharing is a handy service as it allows resource sharing with the printer, public folders, etc. However, it’s advisable to use network sharing only when connected to work or home network.

Tip 3. Enable Firewall

Before connecting to the public Wi-Fi, make sure that the Windows Firewall is enabled.

  • Right-click on Windows key and select Control Panel.
  • Find Windows Firewall and click it.
  • Click on the Turn Windows Firewall on or off.
  • If Windows Firewall is disabled, make sure to enable it.

Tip 4. Use a Virtual Private Network

In other words, use a private browsing or, so called, incognito mode. Private browsing mode prevents the current browsing activity from being remembered in the browsing history. On top of that, it may hide the real-time browsing information from hackers. To protect your IP fully use a VPN hiding software as an addition.

Tip 5. Make sure to use a professional anti-virus

Windows 10 OS has an inbuilt antivirus, Windows Defender. It features a high virus detection and prevention rate and is considered to be sufficient for protecting the system. If you are using another Windows version, select a reliable anti-virus, which is tested by security experts and has an updated virus database. In addition to the primary protection software, we would recommend using a second option anti-virus, for example, Reimage.

Tip 6. Install all available Windows Updates

an outdated operating system is more vulnerable, especially if it lacks crucial security updates that Microsoft releases regularly. Therefore, if you presume that in a near future you will have to use a public Wi-Fi network, especially for some important activities to perform, make sure to install all available updates using Windows Update service.

Tip 7. Do not get tricked by intriguing pop-ups

You must have heard about potentially dangerous or malicious pop-ups that may lead to malware infection or personal information leakage. Be careful with the following notifications:

  • Prize giveaways;
  • Online surveys;
  • Error messages or BSOD;
  • Offers to use a “secured” web browser or toolbar;
  • Security warnings that contain a telephone number (tech-support-scam);
  • Online virus scanners.

Tip 8. Create a strong password

If you are going to access the websites that require the log in information (e.g. online banking, social network, email, etc.) make sure to set a password that would be difficult to guess. This way, you will minimize the risk to provide hackers an easy access to your personal information.

Hopefully, you’ll enjoy a fast public Wi-Fi, but don’t forget about your security!

About the author

Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The problem solver

Ugnius Kiguolis is the founder and editor-in-chief of UGetFix. He is a professional security specialist and malware analyst who has been working in IT industry for over 20 years.

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