When online you are often as safe as you are cautious. Similar to the real world in that you can go your whole life without ever being mugged if you are careful about what you look like, what you carry and where you go. Or you could visit a rough neighbourhood wearing your Rolex watch. The same is true if you turn off your firewall and then use a public Wi-Fi network. Staying safe and engaging with public Wi-Fi security protocols on a public Wi-Fi network means taking the time every few months to see what new Wi-Fi security threats exist, and to then act to avoid as much risk as possible.
How Bad Can It Get?
There are varying degrees of being hacked. Having your systems shut down is bad enough, especially if a virus or malware has found its way through. More serious than that are your passwords or financial details being stolen and used. One of the worst things that could happen though is that the hacker sets up a backdoor to enter your system whenever he or she likes. He or she may gain access to every account you enter a password into, and even accounts that you enter with biometrics. The hacker could also see everything on your computer and the worst part is that you will know nothing about it. The hacker could sell off your passwords, accounts and financial details to the highest bidder without you even knowing.
Turn Off Sharing
It is recommended that you turn off sharing when you are on a public network. Turn your settings to private and people will have a harder time hacking you. Unfortunately there are still some users that don’t set up passwords so even non-hackers can gain access to their systems. Sharing is not a setting that pops up or riles up your virus checker though. If a program is chewing up your CPU power, then your virus checker may highlight it, but it is not going to mention your sharing settings. Change your settings if you are using public networks.
Turn Off Network Discovery
When you are turning your sharing setting to private, you can also turn off network discovery. It means that others can’t see your machine on the network, which in turn means you are less likely to be targeted. It is also known as “Stealth mode.” It is a good public Wi-Fi security precaution.
Use HTTPS and SSL If Possible
A number of regular website connections still use HTTP exchange, which is fine, but HTTPS and SSL are safer. Have SSL enabled, and if at all possible try to stick to websites that use HTTPS and you will increase your level of Wi-Fi security.
Consider Using VPN
VPN stand for Virtual Private Network. In simple terms, it passes all of your web use through a server that is somewhere else. For example, you could pick a location in Japan, and then as far as hackers are concerned, you are in Japan. This makes it more difficult for anyone trying to hack your computer. It also gives you added protection from the websites you visit because they will have a hard time tracking you down and figuring out where you are browsing from.
Turn Off Your Wi-Fi When You Not Using It
Chances are, hackers are going to try to crack your passwords at some point. It can be done with a computer that very quickly tries a large number of variations in a short space of time. If you turn off your Wi-Fi though, then they have a smaller window of time in which to crack your passwords.