How to use Wi-Fi in the safest way?

How to use Wi-Fi in the safest way?

Public Wi-Fi networks, like the ones you can use in coffee shops or hotels, are not nearly as safe as you think. Even if you need to introduce a password, you’re sharing a network with lots of other people, which means your personal data can be at risk.

Just because most wireless routers have a firewall to protect you from the internet doesn’t mean you’re protected from others connected to the same network. It’s bizarrely easy to steal someone’s username and password, or see what they’re doing just by being on the same network. Try to avoid this situation.

We’re going to demonstrate you which settings are the most significant ones, as well as how to automatically alternate your settings to the best level of security every time you connect to a public network.

Let’s take a look at what settings can keep you safe. Make sure you think about these anytime you’re on public Wi-Fi, whether it’s password protected or not. If other people – you don’t know- can be on the same network, it means you need to protect yourself.


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1. Switch off the ‘sharing’ option

When you’re at home, you are able to share files, printers, or even allow remote login from other computers on your network. Nevertheless, when you’re on a public network, you’ll want to avoid this. Just turn these things off, as anyone can access them. You don’t need to be an expert or a hacker to be able to see your personal data.

In Windows:

Open your Control Panel – browse to Network and Internet – Network and Sharing center. Then choose Change Advanced Sharing Settings. Once here, you should definitely switch off file and printer sharing, and you may as well turn off network discovery and Public folder sharing.

Take into account that some of this is automatically done by Windows if you specify the new network you are using as public.

In OS X:

Go to System Preferences – Sharing – make sure all the boxes are unchecked.

Another good idea is to switch off Network Discovery, which you can find in the same location. This will stop others from even seeing your machine on the network, meaning you’re less likely to be targeted. On Windows, it’s just another check box under advanced sharing settings. On OS X, it will be called “stealth mode” and will be under your firewall’s advanced settings.

2. Enable your firewall

Most OS machines nowadays have at least a basic firewall, so it’s a simple step to keeping unwanted local users from looking into your computer. You may already have a firewall, but just to be sure, go into your security settings (in Windows under Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Firewall; and on a Mac under System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall) and make sure your firewall is switched on.

3. Whenever possible use HTTPS and SSL

Regular web site connections over HTTP give and take lots of plain text over the wireless network you’re connected to. But someone with the right skills and bad intentions will be able to sniff out that traffic very easily. Using HTTPS (for visiting web sites) or enabling SSL (when using applications that access the internet, such as an email client) encodes the exchanged data and keeps it away from prying eyes. Lots of sites—including Facebook, Gmail, and others—will use it already automatically.

Best advice: if you should enter a website with very sensitive data, like banking or credit card info, it might be better to wait until you’re at home. There’s no reason to risk more than you have to.

4. Think about using a virtual private network

Unfortunately, not all sites offer SSL encryption. Other search engines and email providers may still be exposed to people watching your activity, so if you use one of these sites frequently, you may want to try using a VPN (virtual private network). These services let you route all your activity through an isolated safe, private network, and so giving you the security of a secure network even though you’re on a public one.

You have a lot of choices, but we recommend CyberGhost as a very simple, free option. Install it on your computer, turn it on whenever you’re on a public network and you’ll be much safer than without it.

5. Switch off Wi-Fi when you aren’t using it

If you want to be sure about your security and you’re not actively using the internet, just switch off your Wi-Fi. This is really easy in both Windows and OS X. In Windows, you just right-click on the wireless icon in the taskbar to switch it off. On a Mac device, just click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and select the switch off AirPort option. Because at the end, the longer you stay connected, the longer people have to notice you’re there and start snooping around.


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Credit: Lifehacker

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