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Being an ardent user of free Wi-Fi sounds like a budget-friendly idea. Of course, you need to log into your social networks, get the latest news update, or check your bank balance. Well, everyone looks forward to enjoying it as long as it favours them. However, you are at a higher risk of losing sensitive and confidential information to third parties. So, what is it with free or open hotspots that make them risky? Here’s how:
Here is a case scenario where you log into Facebook using free Wi-Fi. Because you are sharing password details with another user (a potential hacker), it is easy for them to access your page without you knowing. This gives them a chance to steal the browser cookies that are used to identify who you are. Once they get their hands on that specific cookie, they can pretend to be you on all the sites you are using. Do you see the potential harm a hacker can put you through?
You can still free yourself from scammers by using the following tips:
Know the basic network types
Be it a home, business, public wireless, or a public-wired network; you need to understand how they work. For a home network, you should ensure it operates using a modern standard of encryption and a strong password. The business networks are often programmed by IT experts who provide good data security. Even so, your activity may be monitored and limited to protect you from harm. Public-wired and public wireless networks can be found in schools, government institutions, and commercial places. Because a wide range of users shares them, they are often less secure because they have no encryption.
Before connecting to the specific network, always ensure your device isn’t connected to unknown Wi-Fi hotspots.
Observing good browsing practices
Using an up-to-date browser that supports HTTPS and SSL is one of the best ways of following good browsing practices. HTTPS will encrypt anything you send or receive from the website, including your best password manager app and sensitive data. First, check where you are automatically linked via HTTPS through the address bar found at your browser window. If the “HTTPS” appears, then you will know you are doing the right thing. It doesn’t end there. Hackers can still access valid SSL certificates for popular sites and mimic the HTTPS at the front of the URL.
You may be tempted to visit suspicious sites that don’t support HTTPS encryption. Try to avoid engaging in shady advertising which can break your PC or mobile gadget. Alternatively, you can install an ad blocker and a legit antivirus to protect you from all these.
Get a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
VPNs are designed to protect your data from being stolen by third party interference even if you are using HTTP-enabled sites. Anytime they try to trespass; they will only be notified about the data encryption. Another potential advantage VPNs have they conceal your IP with their IP address from a separate location. You could be in Seattle, but your VPN will show that you are in Alaska.
In as much as free VPN for public Wi-Fi will come in handy, they might release your data and may fail to restrict your traffic. Try the best VPN services from reputable software providers to prevent yourself from being vulnerable. Remember, priced VPNs offer additional security to your needs.
Enable the Firewall
A firewall isn’t the ultimate security detail that prevents hackers from accessing unauthorized data from your device. But, you won’t gain full protection unless you enable it. Think of it as your hero who protects you from data-related malware threats. It works by regulating the data packets from the networks to confirm whether they are safe or not. Any suspicious activity will automatically be blocked by a firewall. Of course, you will run into annoying popups once in a while, but they are there to notify you about potential threats. So, take this as a bonus!
Avoid giving out too much info
If a public Wi-Fi demands many personal details such as your email address or bank details, then this is a red flag. Public places that require a lot from you may be doing this to their advantage. So, it is up to you to decide whether you are comfortable giving out such sensitive details. Alternatively, you can connect to a service you have already registered for.
Personal details and other sensitive data need to be protected from hackers who may use it against you in the future. While a free public Wi-Fi may ease the burden of spending on browsing charges, you need to realize the potential risks you will come across. So, you should avoid giving too much information no matter how safe the site claims to be. To be on the safe side, know your networks, enable the firewall, and use VPNs.