6 Tips To Use A Public Wifi Hotspot Securely

Nerd Insider By Nerd Insider, 18th Jun 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/js73ck9_/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Technology>Computer Software

Public wifi hotspots are great, but do you know what dangers they present? Use these 6 tips to keep hackers from accessing your sensitive information.

Constantly connected

Gone are the days of not being connected to internet constantly. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are all the rage and are quickly becoming present in all major city centres. Even coffee shops and the like are offering that signal goodness we all enjoy. But before you go ahead and connect, ask yourself if you are aware of the dangers from using public hotspots.

So what makes them dangerous exactly? They don’t encrypt data, your passwords or emails for example. While the average computer user won’t know how to view this sensitive information, hackers do. Follow these tips to make sure your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

1. HTTPS

While not all sites support HTTPS, it’s always worth checking if they do. It’s important to avoid online banking or purchasing items unless the site has HTTPS in its URL. Facebook has built in HTTPS, meaning no one can see your social network activity, but you have to turn it on in the settings menu as it’s deactivated by default.

2. Firewall

A firewall is computer security 101 along with antivirus and vulnerability management. Your laptop should already have a firewall installed, be it Windows OS or antivirus. But it’s of no use if turned off, so make sure it’s up and running. Firewalls check incoming information and allow or block those depending on meeting a certain list of criteria.

3. Encrypt

If you want to protect your files from prying eyes, you can encrypt either single files or whole folders. This means no one can make edits or view them. This is particularly useful if you use the same files constantly while using a hotspot.

4. File sharing

It may be useful in the office or at home, but it’s a security risk when using a public hotspot. As the name suggests, you can share files with someone or vice versa. Should a hacker have an infected OS and send you a file, your gadget would also receive that infection.

5. Web browser

Web browsers have gotten better over the years in terms of security. Firefox for example allows add-ons which will help build a layer of protection. Google Chrome’s Incognito mode has been suggested as a good way to browse anonymously.

6. Press delete

Once you have finished, delete your tracks including cookies, history and cache. It’s also important to log out of any sites you were signed into.

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