Is public wi-fi safe in 2017?
The answer to the above is largely, yes, but you can never be 100% sure. Here’s a few things to remember.
Although you’re unlikely to encounter it in 2017, avoid any network that doesn’t require a password to log in. Also make sure your device asks before joining any wi-fi network it encounters. Remember logging into airport wi-fi three years ago? Your phone does.
Check the name of a wi-fi network with staff before logging in. Hackers can set up bogus networks in the vicinity of the one you think are accessing. Any network called ‘Free wi-fi’ should raise suspicion.
To be really safe, you might want to avoid any transactions that involve entering card details.
Don’t do software updates of any kind on a public wi-fi network. A hacker may have hijacked the connection and you may be downloading malware.
If you’re still not sure, try using a VPN. A well known paid service is better than a free one. Some free services have been exposed as vehicles for malware. If you’re connecting to your company, the IT department may have set up connection through a VPN as default on your device.
Check that the web site you’re accessing has encryption enabled. You’ll know because the URL will begin with https. Most of the bigger web sites now have this by default.
Enable two factor authentication. This involves another layer of security, in addition to your standard password. Many popular social sites now nag at you to enable two factor authentication.
If you’re on your Windows laptop, go to ‘advanced sharing settings’ in control panel. There, you can ‘turn off network discovery’ and ‘turn off file and printer sharing’ so that other people on the wi-fi network can’t see you.
It may seem like the nuclear option, but log in and log out every time you visit a site.
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