You’re out and about, doing your shopping at the local mall. Or you’ve just checked into a hotel.
Using public Wi-Fi seems to be the only answer in these cases. But is it safe?
In your rush to get online, you might have overlooked the fact that public Wi-Fi networks could be unsafe. Indeed, it might never have occurred to you that open Wi-Fi can be a risk. So before you sip your latte, and before you pull up Facebook on your phone, consider these simple secure strategies for using public Wi-Fi safely.
1.Keep Your phone’s Operating System up to date
Operating system updates aren’t just about delivering new features to your Android smartphone or iPhone.
They’re sent out to harden the operating system, fix vulnerabilities and prevent hackers from stealing your data.
2.Use mobile anti-virus tools
Before using public Wi-Fi, you should ensure that your phone has suitable security software installed.
While this doesn’t apply so much to iOS users, Android has a problem with malware. Such software would provide a firewall, and malware scanning and removal features.
Mobile security apps can mitigate against this, protecting your device either by actively defending, or scanning and removing the offending malware. While most malware targets Windows computers, don’t overlook the fact that there are mobile-focused alternatives. Android in particular is as big a target for hackers and scammers as Windows. If you’re concerned about malware on your Android device, these tips will help you enhance your Android security.
3.Slow public Wi-Fi hints at ‘danger’
Logged onto an open Wi-Fi network and found that your connection is slow? Trouble even making a connection to the sign-in page? Take care — or better still, disconnect.
There is a chance that this sluggish speed is because the router has been compromised. Another explanation might be that you haven’t connected to the router at all, but to another device posing as the router. Speed may appear slow because data is being routed via the other device.
4.Avoid online shopping or banking
Online banking and shopping over an unsecure, public Wi-Fi connection is unsafe.
Those sniffing scammers can use the tools at their disposal to make things very difficult for you the moment some unencrypted data heads their way.
If you’re using an online banking service, make you’re using your bank’s official app, and that it offers full encryption. Similarly, stick to official, secured apps for online shopping. If they’re not secure, don’t shop until you can be certain it’s safe.
5.Use two-factor authentication
We’re big fans of two-factor authentication, and you should be too.
This is the means by which you can be certain that you are communicating with the online service you think you’re using. Similarly, they can be certain that it is you trying to login, or make a banking transaction.
The two factors used in standard 2FA are usually something you know (your login credentials) and something you have (a generated code on your phone, or a text message sent via the online store, bank, or other service). Once correctly input, you can be certain that you’re using a genuine website.
Two-factor authentication is usually offered by security-savvy online companies. However, be aware that activity conducted after a two-factor sign-in can be easily observed by the owner of a fake router or network. As such, do not rely on this as your “fire and forget fix” for open Wi-Fi networks.
6.Disable Wi-Fi when you’re done
This is a very simple idea, but one that many people just ignore. But switching off your smartphone or tablet’s wireless internet when you’re done is a great idea.
With Wi-Fi disabled, any attempts to drop unwanted malware onto your device will fail. Nearby scammers trying to performing drive-by hacks will find their attempts hit a wall with no data connection to utilize. In short, this is one of the most decisive actions you can take to protect your smartphone on public Wi-Fi.
7.Never connect to public Wi-Fi without VPN
Much of the risk in using a public Wi-Fi can be minimized with the use of a VPN.
VPNs have many purposes from proxy avoidance to overcoming region blocking. They’re also the best security tool you have for browsing the internet in every sense.