Wireless (also known as Wi-Fi) hot spots, are changing the way people work. These wireless local area networks (WLANs) provide high-speed Internet connections in public locations, such as coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, airports, hotel lobbies and more enabling you to work, and search the internet almost anywhere.
But the question is, are they safe?
Public hot spots all have one thing in common—they are open networks that are vulnerable to security breaches. Because they do not encrypt data, your passwords, email messages, and other information can be visible to hackers. That means it’s up to you to be aware of wireless hot spot security and to protect the data on your PC or mobile device.
Following these internet security tips will ensure you are able to work on these wireless networks in a more secure way.
1. Disable your Wi-Fi adapter
When you’re not at home or at work, it’s a good idea to turn off your laptop or notebook’s Wi-Fi capability when you’re not using it. Otherwise your computer might connect to a malicious hot spot without your realizing it. Many laptops now have a Wi-Fi hardware button you can use to disable your Wi-Fi adapter. If yours doesn’t, you can disable your Wi-Fi adapter using your operating system.
2. Choose more secure connections
It’s not always possible to choose your connection type, but Internet security is critical. When you can, opt for wireless networks that require a network security key or have some other form of security, such as a certificate. The information sent over these networks is encrypted, and encryption can help protect your computer from unauthorized access.
3. Protect your email with https
One way to protect your email messages in public is to select the https or other secure connection option in your email account settings (if your email provider supplies one). This option may be called always use https, more secure connection, or something similar. Even if the email provider you use has a secure network, after you log on to your account on a public network, your information is no longer encrypted unless you use a more secure connection. An https connection, for example, which includes encryption, is more secure than an http connection
4. Make sure your firewall is activated
A firewall helps protect your PC by preventing unauthorized users from gaining access to your computer through the Internet or a network. It acts as a barrier that checks all incoming information and then either blocks the information or allows it to come through. Note: Some antivirus software includes its own firewall. If your antivirus has a firewall and it is turned on, you do not need and additional Firewall.
5. Disable file and printer sharing
File and printer sharing is a feature that enables other computers on a network to access resources on your computer. When you are using your mobile PC in a hot spot, it’s best to disable file and printer sharing—when it’s enabled, it leaves your computer vulnerable to hackers. Remember, though, to turn this feature back on when you return to the office.
6. Make your folders private
When the folders on your mobile PC are private, it’s more difficult for hackers to access your files.
7. Encrypt your files
You can protect your files further by encrypting them, which requires a password to open or modify them. Because you must perform this procedure on one file at a time, consider password-protecting only the files that you plan to use while working in a public place.
A few simple precautions can help make working in public places more secure. By selecting the best wireless Internet connections and adjusting settings, you can enjoy more productive and safer work sessions—no matter where you are.