WiFi works by sending and receiving a microwave radio signal through the air to a Wireless Access Point. Over the years, WiFi has been an amazing technological advance. Being able to wirelessly connect our laptops and phones to traditional networks, whether at home or in the office is extremely helpful.

And, public WiFi is very convenient when you’re on the road. However, security can be an issue when you connect to an unsecured public WiFi. When using one, you must know how to protect your data. You can’t control who’s connected to a public WiFi, but you can control what you’re sharing.

  1. Keep your Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software up to date: These are the two major types of protection to keep your computer secure from an attack. Malware (malicious software) includes things like spyware, worms, ransomware, and even viruses. A virus is an older type of malware. Antivirus software detects and removes computer viruses.  However, with the proliferation of other kinds of malware, antivirus software started to provide protection from other computer threats.  (Note: Be sure to process your antivirus and anti-malware updates on a private connection when you’re at home or work.)
  2. Ensure your applications, browsers and operating system are also up to date. Having the latest software version means your computer or device will not only be more secure when using public WiFi, but will also perform better and be more reliable. Plus, it’s always important to run the current version of your browser. When asked to accept an update, be sure to do so. Update your mobile device often by selecting the automatic update option. Keep any installed software, including operating systems and applications, up-to-date as well. (Again, be sure to do this on a private connection.)
  3. Turn off “file-sharing” and “Air Drop” on your iPhone. If you are using a MacBook or iPhone, and take it out of the house/workplace, be sure to turn off File Sharing. There’s nothing wrong with turning it on to use it occasionally, and then off again. Do the same with AirDrop as well. If not, your Mac with show up in the Finder sidebars of other Macs connected to the same hotel/coffeehouse/airport Wi-Fi network.
  4. Turn off your WiFi setting when you’re not using it. If you’re not using your Wi-Fi, or if you don’t needto use it, disabling it is the wise thing to do for security reasons.  If you’re not actively using as secure hotspot, turn off Wi-Fi so that your device isn’t visible to others.
  5. Establish privacy settings for your particular browser (like tracking cookies). Almost all browsers give you some control over how much information is revealed, kept and stored. You can change the settings to restrict cookies and enhance your privacy. Most major browsers now offer a “Private Browsing” tool to increase your privacy.  However, beware. “Private Browsing” may fail to purge all traces of online activity.  Cookies store personal information in at least two ways—form information and ad tracking. This personal information is generated by your own input into websites’ order forms, registration pages, payment pages, and other online forms. It’s best to turn cookies off with using a public WiFi.
  6. Use https:// instead of http:// when browsing. This way, the info between your browser and where you’re surfing will be encrypted. The encryption within https provides benefits like confidentiality, integrity and identity. Your information remains confidential because only your browser can decrypt the traffic.
  7. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN ensures your connection is secure, private and hidden from the rest of the Internet. It allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can be used to shield your browsing activity on public WiFi.  It’s like accessing your local network resources remotely. Most operating systems have integrated VPN support.
  8. Use your iPhone as a Hot Spot instead of using public WiFi. Today, most smartphones have a built-in mobile hotspot function that lets you work on the go and browse the Internet anytime. With a mobile hotspot, you can create an Internet connection for up to five mobile devices on a 3G phone and up to 10 on a 4G LTE smartphone. The phone creates its own secure Wi-Fi network, which you can use for your other computer devices.

The experts at RCOR Technologies can help to keep your data secure both inside and outside your office.  For a complimentary review of your data security needs, contact us at (919) 313-9355 or tim@rcor.com.