How To Use Public Wi-Fi Securely!

By Samantha Woollard (Internet Security Specialist) 17 April 2017

Do you have frequent coffee meetings with colleagues or clients and need to access company information using the cafés free Wi-Fi?  DON’T! Have you ever used free Wi-Fi to log into your online banking? DON’T! Public Wi-Fi is not safe and hackers love to take full advantage of this.

Wi-Fi hotspots are incredibly practical for us be it for social media scrolling, work and private email checking and other business needs. However, they are a potential risk and are just as handy for attackers to steal your private information.

Below are some tips to secure your information if you need to use free Wi-Fi in public places.

Tips to minimise your risk

1. Be smart – Firstly, be aware that any information you send over Wi-Fi hotspots is up for grabs to anyone who has even a bit of an IT background. Your online banking details, usernames and passwords are all out in the open. Try not to use sensitive information or visit anything private whilst using free hotspots.
2. Check Authenticity – Be careful to which hotspot you are connecting. It is possible for a malicious actor to put their own hotspot in place and perhaps disguise as the cafés Wi-Fi. A popular name is ‘_FreeWi-Fi’ as the punctuation puts the hotspot to the top of the list and we are all guilty of being distracted by the word ‘Free’. If you connect through an attacker’s hotspot then everything you do will be recorded by them. Make sure to verify with the café, restaurant, library etc on the name of their network and the password before connecting to any Wi-Fi.

3. Disable File Sharing – If you are a Windows user, make sure to turn off file sharing and mark the connection as a public network. To do this: Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Change Advanced Sharing Settings and uncheck the file sharing option. Another extra precaution is to turn on Windows Firewall by: Control > System and Security > Windows Firewall
4. Over HTTPS – Ensure that the sites you are accessing are over HTTPS by looking at the address bar or for the security lock sign.
5. Patch! Patch! Patch! – Always have software up-to-date so that no current exploit can be used against you. Regarding Wi-Fi, keep your web browser, software, anti-virus and other internet-connected devices are all patched.
6. Two-Factor Authentication – It is always good practice to use two factor authentications where you can. If a hacker could obtain your password then there is another layer of protection in place that they will not be able to get past.
7. Use a VPN – A Virtual Private Network encrypts all traffic and ensures a safe way of using the Internet. It also masks your IP address so that phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks are reduced.
8. Log off and Forget– Once you have finished using the Wi-Fi connection, log off from any services you were using and forget the network. This prevents your phone from automatically connecting to it again when you are within range. Remember to always turn off your Wi-Fi if you are not using it to stop it from connecting to random open hotspots when you are out and about. Another tip that helps with this is to disallow your device to connect automatically within your Wi-Fi settings.

Security for us is not only when you have a strong password. Security for businesses is not only what happens within the company building. Protecting yourself and your business is an ongoing process. The tips above can help everyone reduce their risk of attack and loss of personal information and sensitive data to crafty hackers lurking in public areas.

Relax. Your security is Intact.

Author: Intact Security


Posted on by Martin Quinn in Security Blog