Securely Connecting to Public Hotspots

Wireless hotspots are convenient – but not terribly secure. While allowing you to work from anywhere, they can also expose your device and data to security threats. Read on to find out how to protect yourself.

Wireless internet access, or WiFi, is now so common that it can be found virtually anywhere—in airports, shops, restaurants, and other public spaces. The near ubiquity of these wireless “hotspots” can be a great boon for many of us who need Internet access to check on emails for work or updates from friends on our favorite social network.

Unfortunately not a lot of people know about the risks these wireless hotspots potentially pose. Here are 8 ways to ensure you can surf securely from wireless hotspots:

  1. Disable your WiFi adapter when not using your wireless device. This ensures that your device does not connect to any wireless hotspot without you knowing it.
  2. Connect only to secure hotpots. In many places, open networks implement no password and no encryption, potentially exposing everything you send out from your computer to malicious hackers. Therefore, whenever possible it’s best to connect in places where some encryption—either WEP or WPA, is employed. Often your device will show a lock icon to identify secure, password protected and encrypted hotspots vs open and unsecured ones.
  3. Use VPN or Virtual Private Networking. VPNs allow you to establish a secure channel of communication to your office network over the public Internet.
  4. Use only secure software. The use of software is also something you should be aware of—some browsers , instant messengers, email clients, and online services are more secure than others. So use the more secure ones such as those that implement some sort of encryption or similar methods whenever possible.
  5. Disable sharing. If your device or operating systems share resources such as folders, printers, and other items, consider turning them off to lessen the possible entry points into your system which malicious hackers or software can exploit.
  6. Use a firewall. For example, most modern desktop computers have a firewall built in which acts as a barrier between your device and malicious software and hackers. These can bar from entry or filter out any attempts to access to your system without your approval.
  7. Encrypt files. If you have sensitive files on your computer, consider encrypting them so you can avoid having them fall into the wrong hands if your system does get compromised.
  8. Remove sensitive or confidential information from your device before using hotspots. This is the safest way of ensuring that your valuable data isn’t compromised when connecting to hotspots.

Wireless hotspots can be great for anyone traveling on business or for those always on the road. Being proactive regarding the security issues that you might encounter can go a long way in ensuring your safety and privacy when using them. If you or others in your business need to go online using hotspots, we can help you set up your machines for secure access by implementing security software, consulting on software security, and more. Contact us today to find out more.

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