We all use free Wi-Fi when we get the chance – and why not? You sit down at a café and answer a couple of emails, or you latch onto the network in a restaurant and catch up with old friends… You are at the airport and killing time online because of your delayed flight, and a million other situations and circumstances. However, this will all also get you into a dangerous position.
Namely, public, free Wi-Fi is most often not secure. Just because it requires a password doesn’t mean you are safe and that your online activities are private. A hacker can easily and quickly get into an open network, snoop around, and steal your data.
And you need to stay safe. Whether you’re a manager at a high-level company, or simply an office worker at a small start-up, your privacy matters. Your job, your company, your bank account, all can be at stake if you don’t keep an eye on your privacy, and on your protection.
How am I at risk?
There are basically two ways a hacker can get into your network. First, he or she can be on the same network you are. Form there they can intercept your data through the Man in the Middle technique. The MITM technique intercepts communication between the Wi-Fi user, and the actual Wi-Fi router. Form here, they capture data that is being transmitted.
The second way this is done is by having hackers create fake Wi-Fi spots. Form here they gain further sensitive information because you will directly be relaying data to this hotspots.
In order to protect yourself, you need to practice some common sense, as well as simply get the right tools to protect yourself. Below are some tips so you can do just that.
Be smart with your data
First things first – be smart with your data. Keep an eye on the network name you are using, carefully. Does it seem off? Does it make sense? Is it incredibly similar to another on the list of networks your device is showing you? This similarity might be a hacker trying to pass of his own network as a real one. Don’t be shy, talk to the employees in the place where you have access to the relevant Wi-Fi network, and double check.
We also suggest you keep an eye on your sharing preferences. Turn them off – go to your network settings, and turn file sharing off. You can find it in your settings, or in your control panel, depending on what you’re using.
Get a good VPN
Getting a solid VPN is also an excellent way to protect yourself. Namely, a VPN (or virtual private network) is there to mask your own IP address, and to encrypt your data. Whatever information you send to a network, or you receive, will be encrypted. Think of like a safe tunnel built between you and your server.
A VPN will protect your information in this manner, and a hacker simply won’t be able to access it in any way, shape, or form.
As far as its installation is concerned, no need to worry. First, you just need to do your homework. Get some research going, check out this comprehensive list of free VPNs , and choose the one that suits your needs. Install it, run the application, choose whatever server fits you the best, and you are good to go.
Keep your firewall online
Don’t forget about your firewall. Namely, this can serve as an excellent first line of defence against hackers who want to access your device. While it’s not the strongest of protective layers around, it’s defiantly effective and useful.
Namely, a firewall acts as a barrier between your device and data-based threats. What it does is monitor and screen any and all data that comes from networks, checking whether said data is safe or not. Anything malicious gets blocked.
In order to turn on your firewall, get to your control panel, or system preferences, check the security functions, and enable firewall.
Use an antivirus
While an antivirus (and antimalware) won’t directly protect your from hackers, it can assist you in blocking malware from entering your system. So while the data you send can be overtaken by a hacker, malware itself will be deleted by your protective software. If it’s properly set up, proper anti malware and antivirus software will prevent any further damage entering your device.
In sum, your online privacy should not be taken lightly. Hackers can quickly and easily get into an open network and steal a great deal of your information and data. For this reason, you need to protect yourself. Be mindful of how you use open networks, keep your firewalls on, and use a VPN.