How To Stay Safe On Public Networks

If you often travel – be it for work or pleasure – you may sometimes feel a small wiggle in your consciousness whenever you connect to open wifi networks. Somewhere in your mind, you’ve probably heard that unsecured networks put your information at risk. However, maybe you can’t remember why that is, or what you’re supposed to do about it. So you continue to connect and cross your fingers that all goes well.
Whether you are at the library or the airport, free wifi can be a lifesaver. However, it is important that we all understand how to keep our information safe when we use open wifi services. In this post, we cover our top 5 tips for keeping your personal information safe from anyone who could stumble upon it in an unsecured network:

#1. Be careful what you access.

Beyond telling you not to connect to public wifi at all, the best advice we can give you is to be very wary about what you access while on a public network. It’s a great time to check your favorite blogs or stream video, but a terrible time to check bank balances or any other website that contains personal information. Remember that it only takes one mistake online to open the gates for identity fraud.

#2. Turn off file sharing options.

Airdrop and file sharing options could be an access point for a hacker to worm their way into your devices. Be sure to disable these options before connecting to an open network. Whether you are using a PC or a Mac, there are Bluetooth connections that could leave you vulnerable. It’s a good idea to set these options to “Contacts Only” as soon as possible.

#3. Keep software and applications updated.

This tip pretty much applies to every technology you’ll use ever. Beyond keeping your information secure on public networks, it is always wise to update whenever the option appears. From operating systems to Candy Crush, keeping your software up to date keeps intruders out.

#4. Only have wifi on when you are using it.

Turning your wifi off when not in use may seem like an obvious tip. However, so many of us go about our day with our wifi on and searching. It can be hard to remember to disable the feature as we go about our daily lives, so instead, set your device to force you to turn it on when you want to use it. By setting your wifi connections to OFF by default, you can add one additional layer of protection.

#5. Use a VPN.

The best protection from an unsecured, untrusted network is direct, encrypted access to a secure network. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) bypasses the open network and connects you to a secure network that will protect your information. Whether you get a VPN from a third-party source like WestHost or create your own, you will have the ability to quickly connect to a secure network no matter where you are.