Security is NOT a minor issue when we have to use a public Wi-Fi network to connect. Currently, it is possible to find an internet connection almost in any public place: squares, subways, trains, libraries, bars and restaurants, hospitals, airports, shopping malls, universities, and even on the street in the central areas of many cities.
And since we are becoming a bit more nomadic and taking our smartphones and/or tablets with us everywhere we go and intending to connect at will, having a free wi-fi connection available is great; but, there is always a but, as always happens on the Internet, you should know that there are security risks.
But before we go any further, let’s see what a Wi-Fi network is, and then let’s see how to protect our security on a public Wi-Fi network.
What Is Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is a wireless technology that allows different devices to communicate with each other, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop PCs, printers, video game consoles, digital cameras, etc.
All of these devices connect to a network (such as the Internet) via a wireless network access point, that access point is called a “hotspot. “
The range of a Wi-Fi network is approximately 20 meters inside a building since the walls block the signal, but outside we can have overlapping access points, and then a single public Wi-Fi network can reach to cover several square kilometers.
Since it is not necessary to have a physical connection, for example through a cable, Wi-Fi networks are less secure and more prone to unwanted access, which is why it is so important that you know how to protect yourself when using a Wi-Fi network. public fi.
At home or in the office things change a bit, we have firewalls (firewalls) to prevent unwanted access and anti-virus software so that our PCs are free of viruses and malware. And the same thing happens in a public place, but in a public Wi-Fi network, we never know how secure or not it is.
For example, many public networks do not encrypt the data that is transmitted over them. Also, if a network is public, you don’t need passwords to connect, anyone can access it, including our hated cybercriminal.
The first conclusion that we can draw from what has been said so far is that a public Wi-Fi network is not ideal for accessing your bank account or any account that contains sensitive data. However, we can make use of the network if we take precautions such as the following.
10 Security Tips On A Public Wi-Fi Network
1. Whatever device you use to access the network, make sure your anti-virus and anti-malware software is up to date and turned on.
2. Make sure you have the firewall enabled.
3. When you are in a public place turn off the share option. You can do this from the Control panel on Windows or System Preferences on Mac.
4. Disconnect your device from the public Wi-Fi network when you’re done.
5. Avoid using that connection to access your bank account, or credit card or make online purchases. These activities must be carried out through a secure connection.
6. If you have to send information, you must do so through sites whose URL begins with “https”, not “http”, the “s” indicates that the site in question uses an encryption system to protect the information.
7. Do not use the same password to access different accounts. If you are unlucky enough to have an account hacked, that password will not work to enter another account. This measure is not exclusive to public Wi-Fi networks.
8. Avoid automatically connecting to a hotspot, thus reducing the possibility of connecting to a malicious hotspot aimed at stealing information. It is always better to manually choose the point to connect to.
9. If you’re going to be using public Wi-Fi a lot, it’s a good idea to use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is like a private network that you can use anywhere, for this you have to subscribe to a VPN service that has a monthly cost (approximately US$4-13), but if you are a frequent traveler or constantly work from the street, it is an excellent option. A VPN hides your IP address and location and encrypts your communication.
10. Use common sense. Never trust public Wi-Fi networks. Internet is a risk, it should be a controlled risk. With public wi-fi, you do not control anything.