You may be delighted to see “Free WiFi” pop up on your tablet, laptop or smartphone, when you visit a local coffee shop or at a hotel while on holiday, especially when there’s no password required. But beware! Most public wireless hotspots don’t encrypt the data you send over the internet and are not secure. Some of them don’t even require a username to login into the network. And the ones that do, still don’t protect you from hackers that might be connected to the same network. This leaves your sensitive data like passwords and banking information unprotected against hackers.
Steps you can take to protect yourself when using public Wi-Fi:
Ensure that at least a basic firewall is installed and running on your device. Firewalls monitor all traffic between your computer and the Wi-Fi network. This gives you a basic level of protection, but not enough to mitigate more serious threats from public Wi-Fi networks.
Take note of whether the URL of the website you’re visiting starts with http:// or https:// For sensitive transactions, only use websites that start with “https”. This means that your data is encrypted when being sent to and from the server. The simpler “http” websites transfer most of their data as plain text, so it wouldn’t require much of an effort for even amateur hackers to access information transferred across such a connection.
Virtual Private Network
Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is another way to reduce the risk of having your data hacked over a public Wi-Fi Network. A VPN lets you route all your information through a private network, so is much more secure. All your data including passwords, banking details, etc. is encrypted so your security won’t be compromised even when accessing sites that don’t start with https://
Never re-use the same password
If a hacker ever manages to get access to one of your passwords over the Wi-Fi network, he or she would not only be able to get into the account you happened to be using at the time, but could potentially have access to all your other accounts that use the same password. So to protect against this possibility, use a different password for each of your online accounts.
Use third party applications like oneSafe
Password management applications like oneSafe encrypt and secure your private data, providing watertight security in the event that a hacker gains access to your device through a public wireless network. oneSafe also helps you create and store a variety of strong passwords for all your internet and other accounts so you don’t need to stress about keeping them all in your head!