Wi-Fi hotspots can be a blessing and a curse. They’re double awesome sauce when you’re doing a working lunch outside of the office, but they’re also open connections that make you and your personal data vulnerable to hackers and trolls. So, you’ve got two choices — prohibit your devices from utilizing any open Wi-Fi or taking some simple steps to safeguard your privacy when you’re using a Wi-Fi hotspot. If you elect the later then read on.
Because Wi-Fi sources are accessible to the public (everyone at the coffee shop can use it) they don’t have encryption. Without encryption your data — email, passwords, accounts — is exposed to anyone nearby and with enough savvy to capture it.
Sadly, there are some Wi-Fi connections that have been set-up as decoy hotspots. They look similar in name to the open Wi-Fi (again, at the coffee shop) but they actually compromise your system and data. Sounds scary, but refrain from freaking out until you read these helpful tips.
1. Turn off file-sharing on your device or computer.
2. Stay off of sites that require you to log in to your account (online banking, Facebook, etc.)
3. If you’re using a webmail client make sure that your email is encrypted with either an encryption service or vie SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)
4. Before accessing web pages confirm that they’re secure and begin with https://
5. Use a virtual private network (VPN) for an added layer of protection
The above precautions aren’t fool proof but they can help minimize the chances that you’re date and identity is accessed when you’re on open Wi-Fi.
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