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How to stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks

There is no public Wi-Fi network that is completely secure. However, using a VPN and an antivirus, as well as turning on the firewall and only visiting HTTPS sites, can help to reduce the risks. Here are some practical suggestions for keeping your personal information and financial credentials safe from hackers when using public Wi-Fi networks, as detailed in this article.

When you attempt to connect to a public Wi-Fi network, you will almost certainly receive a notification informing you of the risks associated with such a network connection. Even if you are required to enter a password, this does not necessarily imply that the connection is risk-free or secure. Hackers may attempt to obtain your personal information and bank card information — but by following these simple steps, you can reduce the risk of being compromised.

Choose the hotspot cautiously.

If you have a choice between several networks, choose the one that is affiliated with a well-known brand, such as Starbucks. These cafes make money by selling you snacks and coffee, which they use to fund their operations. However, why would someone who does not stand to gain financially from sharing their connection provide you with free wifi?

Take a moment to review the terms and conditions of any network before signing up. Without being a professional, you will struggle to comprehend the meaning of every sentence in this lengthy text. However, you will most likely notice warnings that are denoted by red flags or bold letters and will pay close attention to them.

Don’t neglect the firewall.

A firewall is a type of anti-malware barrier that keeps track of all data coming into the system from the network. Any data packet that appears to be malicious is automatically blocked. Although a firewall cannot guarantee 100 percent security, it is preferable to keep it turned on at all times.

Unfortunately, because firewalls generate a large number of pop-ups and notifications, many people choose to disable them. Later on, they forget to turn on the program again. On a Mac, the corresponding tab can be found in the “Security & Privacy” section of “System Preferences,” where you can enable or disable a firewall. The “System and Security” section contains the tab that corresponds to the Windows counterpart.

Use a VPN

Using a virtual private network (VPN), you can create a secure tunnel between your server and your web browser. Hackers cannot see your data because it has been encrypted before being sent to them. When you use a VPN, it is impossible to determine your true geographical location. Although you may be waiting for a flight at Barcelona International Airport, your IP address will indicate that you are in Estonia or somewhere else.

Some virtual private networks (VPNs) are available for free, but paid products provide significantly more functionality. Installing the MacKeeper app is one of the most popular and effective solutions available. Multi-functional software that includes a built-in VPN, antivirus, adware cleaner, and device tracking system. It is available for free from the official website. Its virtual private network (VPN) encrypts the data you send online and protects you from identity theft. Because of the multi-layered protection, you can browse the internet and make payments without fear of being scammed. When the app suspects that there has been a data breach, it will notify you. A one-month license for MacKeeper will cost you €14.95 if you purchase it from the developer’s website. If you choose the 2-year tariff, you will be billed €4.95 per month for the first two years.

Browse only the HTTPS sites

HTTPS is the gold standard for site security and should be used whenever possible. The letter S in this acronym stands for “security,” as indicated by the capitalization. It encrypts the connection between the server and the browser, which is useful when you don’t want to use a virtual private network (VPN). Some browsers include a padlock symbol at the beginning of a website’s address to draw attention to the site’s high level of security. Insecure HTTP addresses are easily exploited by hackers, who can easily see what you’re doing on the site.

The HTTP and HTTPS versions of some websites are available on the same server. If you want your browser to automatically redirect you to the secure version, you can install the HTTPS Everywhere extension from the Chrome web store. He offers it for no cost. It is also accessible through browsers on both desktop and mobile devices.

Antivirus

You should update your antivirus software on a regular basis to ensure that it can detect even the most recent and previously unknown threats. It is not necessary to scan your device; simply keeping your antivirus software enabled will suffice. In the event that malware attempts to infiltrate your computer through a public network, you will receive a notification.
MacKeeper, as previously mentioned, includes an antivirus program. Another option is to use Norton, which has received excellent expert reviews and is highly recommended. Among the features of its basic package are a secure VPN connection, an optional safe cam feature, a password manager, and dark web monitoring. Parental control is also included in the Deluxe version, and the LifeLock version includes a smart firewall, cloud backup, and the so-called “Million Dollar Protection Package,” among other features and benefits. In some cases, depending on your tariff, you can purchase Norton for as little as $49.99 per year, with 30-day free trials available for smartphones.

Sign in to as few public networks as possible

And “forget” about them as soon as you log out of your account. You might not even be aware that your device has connected to the network because, if it doesn’t forget the connection, it will do so automatically the next time it detects it. As a result, it would be prudent to turn off automatic connection as well. When travelling for pleasure or business, try to stick to the same hotspot as much as possible. The greater the number of connections you make, the greater your risks.

Which strategies hackers use

Hackers typically create a fake hotspot or attack you through the hotspot you are currently using in order to steal your personal data from a public network.

Fake hotspots

Though you may believe you are logging into a legitimate hotspot at a cafe or hotel, this may not be the case. Please double-check the name of the network as well as its IP address to be on the safe side. Never be afraid to inquire with the venue’s staff about which of the many available connections is the most risk-free.

You risk having your financial credentials, social media accounts, and other sensitive data (including shared files) compromised if you connect to a hotspot created by hackers while on the internet. Before you connect to the internet from a public network, turn off your file sharing feature. According to your operating system, you can access system preferences either through the control panel or through the system preferences menu. In addition, turn off any print sharing, AirDrop, Bluetooth, and other similar features.

Be wary of system upgrade notifications that you receive while connected to a public network or after you have disconnected from one. It’s possible that it’s malware in disguise, which will broadcast your personal information to hackers. It is possible for it to gain access to your device through the file-sharing system.

Never download anything from a public network, even if it is from a site that you visit on a regular basis. If you absolutely must, you can use your phone as a hotspot to get online. The same is true for payments: if you need to make a payment, please do so through your own hotspot instead.

Attacking from the same network

Hackers frequently target the connections between a public Wi-Fi router and the users who are connected to it through the use of malware. They act as men-in-the-middle, intercepting and storing all incoming and outgoing information.

A disproportionate number of public networks are powered by antiquated and inefficient software. When the WPA3 security protocol becomes more widely used, the level of protection they receive will be increased, but this could take several years. So far, make sure to update your software and install the most recent patches before connecting to a new hotspot that is not familiar with your computer.

If you are required to enter your e-mail address when registering for a public network, do not use the same address that you use for daily communications with others. Make a second account specifically for these types of occasions.

Make an effort to use two-factor authentication for all of the services you access. Even if the hackers manage to steal your login information and passwords, they will not be able to access your accounts in this scenario.