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  • Burton Kelso, Tech Expert

5 Things You Should Do Before You Connect to Public Wifi

Updated: May 22, 2019


Who can resist the urge to connect to free public WiFi networks? I know many of you prefer using WiFi as opposed to using up the data with your plan from your cellular provider. Also, many of you with mobile businesses need to access WiFi to get stuff done.  Free WiFi is everywhere we go such as malls, restaurants, schools, hotels, airports, libraries, and coffee shops. It's free, but it doesn't mean that it is safe to use.  When you connect to public WiFi and send your personal information through websites and mobile apps, it can be accessed by cyber criminals who are waiting to pounce on the data you send out through an unprotected network. There are some free WiFi networks that have passwords on them.  Don’t assume that since the network has a password, it has to be safe. This is your friendly reminder to let you know if you need to access public wireless networks, you need to make sure the information on your laptop, smartphone and tablet are safe by doing the following things.


1. Disable File Sharing.  Sharing files is something many of your do when your sitting in your office or home office. It's great to be able to have a system where you can swap files with your family or co workers.  When you're connected to public wifi, you need to have this feature turned off. Public WiFi is essentially a large computer network. If you have file sharing turned on everyone can have access to the files on your device. You should also turn off Windows and Macintosh network discovery. This feature allows your loved ones and co workers to see your computer to access your files, but not a good thing for public networks.  Turning of this feature will prevent others from even seeing your device when you connect to a wireless network.

2. Turn on that Firewall. Windows and Macintosh computers have a firewall built into the operating system.  If you're one of those folks who has Norton, McAfee or any other third party anti-virus software installed on your computer, you can take it off.  It's just a waste of money ... but that's for another article.  By default, your firewall is turned on, but whenever you connect to public networks, go to your settings and make sure it's turned on.

3. Verify the WiFi connection. You ever notice nowadays when you attempt to connect to a public network, there can be many network connections to choose from.  By looking at that list, can you tell which networks belong to the establishment providing the WiFi and which ones don't? Of course you can't and criminals count on this. This allows to criminals to create bogus WiFi connections for people to connect to and steal their data.  Verify which WiFi connection you should connect to before you connect your devices.

4. Protect Your Data.  It's important to only use websites that are fully encrypeted when using public WifFi. You will know a website is encrypted when you see  HTTPS:// in the address bar of your brower for each web page you visit.  If you find yourself on an unencrypted page, log out right away. Also, remember not to use the same password for your online accounts. 

5. Use a VPN (virtual private Network).  A VPN is the best option to use when accessing public WiFi. A VPN will create a tunnel for your data when you visit websites on the Internet. This tunnel keeps your data private so hackers can't see the information you are viewing or sending across the internet. There are free and paid VPN services. Always use paid VPN to get the best overall protection. 

Some other tips you want to follow to keep safe and secure on public wifi.  

1. Use 2 factor authentication.  If a hacker gets access to your username and password, they won't be able to access your data. 

2.  Don't make financial transactions over public networks.  

Internet security is important and you need to make sure you understand the risks when you use public WiFi.  The tips I've shared are easy to follow and wills ave your cyber-criminals. 

understand the risks of public Wi-Fi. This may prevent internet users and our loved ones from falling victim to data thefts. These tips are simple, easy, relatively inexpensive and could save you from cyber-criminals at any public place.

If you have any questions about your technology and your devices, please feel free to contact us at Integral. Our friendly tech experts at Integral are always standing by to answer your questions and help make your technology useful and fun. Reach out to us a www.integralcomputerconsutants.com or phone at 888.256.0829. 

I'm  the Chief Technology Expert at Integral. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn , and Twitter and watch great tech tip videos on my YouTube channel. I love technology. I've read all of the manuals and I want to make technology fun and exciting for you. I can be reached by email at burton@integralcomputerconsultants.com

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