With public wifi so common and super convenient, cyber-attacks are on the rise. In order to protect ourselves, here are 5 tips to stay safe and secure when you connect to an open network:
1. Always make sure the open wifi network you are connecting to is the one you actually want to connect to. When we are in a public library, or a coffee shop; we are usually provided with a public wifi network where we can connect without a password. Here’s the catch, anyone can create a public network with the same name! When you connect to the free wi-fi at your local coffee shop, a hacker may intercept your connection in the made-up, and unsecure, wi-fi network. Wherever you’re at, verify the name of the network verified by staff. Mark the connection as “Public Network” when prompted, and turn off file sharing. Turn on a firewall, too for added protection!
2. Use a VPN (virtual private network)! A VPN is the best way to protect yourself when connected to public wifi. A VPN client encrypts the data between your computer and the internet. There are free and paid services on the internet. Make sure to log in to your secure VPN as soon as you connect to public wi-fi.
3. Check the lock icon in the URL bar in your web browser to ensure that it’s a safe connection. Chrome, Firefox, and Opera all offer extensions to ensure your browser connects to only secure sites.
4. Update your software! Update your operating system through a secure network and watch for browser updates and install them when available.
5. Ready to get snazzy? Enable two-factor authentication. Even your login details can be hacked as you’re signing in on public wifi. With two-factor authentication you add a layer of protection. Try to use different, strong passwords for different services.
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