Using free internet when out brings with it security issues. Connecting to Wi-Fi when mobile is not the same as connecting at home where you will have set up security (hopefully).
Often free hotspots do not have this security and even worse, you have no idea who set it up or who else might be using it and even unprofessional hackers can gain access to your information.
This brings about the question of how to secure data when browsing using public Wi-Fi.
So, is there a way to make use of the benefits that public Wi-Fi offers while remaining safe and secure?
In fact, there’s more than one way to keep your information private and secure and we will look at four of those ways here, with one of the ways is superior to the others.
- Use a VPN;
- Always make sure you connect to HTTPS websites;
- Don’t undertake FTP transactions using public Wi-Fi;
- Verify the SSID of the hotspot.
Now let us take a deeper look into how you can remain safe when using public Wi-Fi.
Subscribe with a VPN Provider
One of the easiest and quickest solutions to remaining safe and secure online is to take out a subscription with a Virtual Private Network provider.
There are monthly and yearly plans available, with the best deals being on pre-paid plans, making it an affordable solution.
After signing up with a provider download an app to the device or devices that you use to connect to the internet and install it. Once installed you can click on the icon left by the installation and open up the app.
Choose a server from those offered by the VPN provider, from anywhere in the world and connect to that server. Your IP is swapped for one of the servers from the country you connected to and a “virtual tunnel” is put between your computer and the internet.
Any information you send over the internet is encrypted as it passes through the tunnel and decrypted once it reaches its destination.
Even if someone were to be able to get hold of your information, they would not be able to read it.
This is the most secure way to utilize public Wi-Fi when out while keeping your information safe and secure.
Only connect to HTTPS sites
You might have noticed that websites have different URLs. These are generally HTTP or HTTPS.
The securest URL is HTTPS and generally, websites with this in the URL have a small padlock icon to the side of the URL to signify it is a secure connection.
Of course, this does not mean the site provides the same secured encryption that a VPN offers, but at least it is more secure than visiting an HTTP website.
Never make an FTP transaction on public Wi-Fi
Unless you have a VPN in place, you should never make an FTP transaction when using public Wi-Fi as this can leave your information wide open to anyone looking.
The only exception to this would be if you were using secured FTP, as encryption would be in place.
On a side note, you should be wary of using other protocols that transfer data in a manner that is not secure. This includes when using email to send sensitive data or information using client programs. In this case, make sure that SSL is verified if you are using SMTP, IMAP or POP3 connections.
Again, if you have a VPN in place this would not be an issue as your information is protected via military-grade encryption.
Always verify the SSID
One way hackers take advantage of public Wi-Fi is to set up their own hotspot close to that of a public one.
Hackers are clever in choosing names for hotspots as they choose one that closely resembles a legitimate one. For instance, if you were connecting to a Starbucks public Wi-Fi they would name is similar to the Starbucks connection.
You connect to it thinking it is a legitimate hotspot but in reality, your information is sent through the hacker’s network, and they can see your information.
To get around this you might want to check and verify the name of the SSID of the hotspot from the business that is hosting it.
Another clue is that there might be two access points, both with the same name.
Of course, with a VPN in place, this isn’t something you would have to worry about.