Computer Safety and Public Wi-Fi

by HSG on Jun 10, 2014 in Articles from Software Fans

As much as we love to assume free Wi-Fi is secure, this is far from the truth. Because you are attaching to a service many others are connected to as well, without security measures, your device can be hacked, especially if the network is unencrypted. Because this encryption involves handing out a 26-character hexadecimal key to every individual wanting to use that network, most places opt for ease of access over security. And even with a secure network, your information is vulnerable to everyone else who has the password and is on the network.

This may not seem like such a big deal and many people don’t believe they have anything to hide on their personal devices, but remember what you use on those devices. Chances are your e-mail is attached as well as all other social media sites. You may have apps that track your finances or private messages to certain others that you would never want anyone else to see. Luckily, there are steps that can be taken to reduce and prevent any unwanted information grabbers from accessing your personal information.

To start, go through your computer’s settings in order to verify your operating system’s security functions are all set to offer the highest protection. Open up the Control Panel and double check that your Firewall is enabled for both private and public networks. Then, go to Network and Sharing to open Change advanced sharing settings. In here, you can turn off file and printer sharing and network discovery for public networks.

One of the most important things to watch for is HTTPS. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure ensures secure communication across the web. Many of the major email systems use this when you log in (as another layer of password protection) but drop the security as soon as the login is complete. To keep this going, HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that gives you a secure connection when browsing some of the more popular sites. It can also be programmed for other sites you like to visit that don’t use HTTPS.

Not every place on the internet provides the choice of HTTPS, and VPNs are there to fill in the security gap. Virtual Private Networks allows data to be sent and received through public access points as if it were directly connected to a secure network. Many businesses offer this for company devices, but if you are an individual looking for that kind of security, ProXPN is a free version that can be upgraded. Unfortunately, it limits your speed, but other choices include VPNBook, OpenVPN Shield Exchange, and OkayFreedom.

With these three steps implemented, secure public Wi-Fi can be achieved. No longer will you have to worry about connecting in an unsure environment with strangers, never knowing if your information is being stolen. With all of the options free of charge, it is also an affordable means of protecting yourself that only takes a little time and effort to implement and guarantee safety.

 

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