In this modern age, free Wi-Fi has been available in almost every place we go. Coffee shop, restaurant, shopping center, bus, airport, you name it… They are everywhere!
Most people, especially digital nomads rely on it when they have to access their laptops and work remotely. Staying connected to a public Wi-Fi can be risky. Hackers can snatch all data that goes through the router such as passwords, email address, and even credit card data. Here’s what you need to know about using free public Wi-Fi and how to surf safely, on any device.
1.) Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
This is a great way to lock out anyone on the same network as you who might be snooping around. Yes, I’m talking about cyber-criminals. They can retrieve sensitive data by using Wi-Fi sniffers and other methods in order to obtain emails, passwords and other data sent over the unsecured Wi-Fi network.
You can use a trusted VPN provider to help you secure your laptop’s internet connection. Using a VPN can guarantee that all of the data you’re sending and receiving is encrypted. Step up your privacy and anonymity, use a VPN such as IPVanish and VyprVPN.
2.) Use secure websites and apps
If you really need to access your bank account online, make sure the information you enter or the data you receive for using the public connection is encrypted. Sensitive info like credit card numbers, passwords or any login credentials should be protected from anyone trying to hack in that unsecured connection.
Use Https:// when you’re doing anything important over that public Wi-Fi. Think long and hard if you really need to purchase something online, we really don’t recommend running any important operation on an open Wi-Fi. But if you badly need something online, make sure you see the green padlock beside the address bar of your browser. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
3.) Keep Your Antivirus Up to Date
This is probably a no-brainer. Run an anti-malware software whenever you need to use an unsecured public Wi-Fi and make sure they are updated so viruses or other malware won’t compromise your personal data. Usually, any antivirus software will update itself frequently.
Keeping your laptop or mobile phone free of malware can save your life because you don’t have to go through massive cleaning when any suspicious software or malware attacks your device. This is why keeping your antivirus frequently updated is very important. If you don’t have it, don’t connect to a public Wi-Fi at all. It’s cheaper to purchase one now rather than fix the damage later.
4.) Turn Off File Sharing Options
Turn off your cloud or file sharing when using an open network to secure your important documents. Here’s how:
For Windows 10
Step 1: Go to Control Panel.
Step 2: Click on View network status and tasks under Network and Internet.
Step 3: Click on Change advanced sharing settings
Step 4: Select Turn off file and printer sharing, and tap Save changes.
For Mac users
Step 1: Go to System Preference.
Step 2: Click on Sharing icon.
Step 3: Uncheck the File Sharing box and then close the window.
Set AirDrop to contacts-only. If you don’t set it to “contacts only,’ anyone near you can send files. That hacker might get access to important files or do a reverse hack.
5.) Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Everyone is concerned about online safety. That is why most services such Facebook, Instagram, Google, Apple, Yahoo use the Two-factor Authentication for extra security step when logging in to your account. We use 2FA whenever we use a new device or gadget, the process takes longer to log in but it’s worth it in the long run to avoid serious identity theft.
Usually, it will send a code to your mobile phone and it will ask you to enter this security code on the platform so you can get access to your account. Activate this feature on all your social media account and email services so you can create peace of mind.
6.) Use the right network
Pick a public Wi-Fi that’s safe to use like the ones in the coffee shops, restaurants, stores, etc. rather than questionable networks lurking around like “Airport Free WiFi”. Public Wi-Fi in most shops has better performance compared to the ones that you can connect right away without a password or extra security.
If you’re in the airport, you can download an app like WiFox so you know which public network to pick. It will help you choose what network to connect to and which ones not to use. And also, make sure to read the Terms and Conditions of the Wi-Fi before you connect.
7.) Turn Off Wi-Fi When Not in Use
If you don’t need something online, don’t leave your Wi-Fi connection on. Plus, it will help you save your battery. It’s a good habit to disconnect when you’re not using it, especially if you’re using untrusted networks. The longer you are connected to that unsafe network, the more exposure you are to danger.
If you really need to do work with an unsecured connection, download your files and save it to your laptop or Google drive or any similar apps. That way, it will save you from any damage you might encounter with people snooping in that public network.
8.) Bring a Pocket Wi-Fi
Ditch the public Wi-Fi entirely and use your own Wi-Fi instead. This is the best real protection from untrusted networks. If you’re traveling to a new country, I’m pretty sure they offer a sim card where you can top-up and get internet services.
If you need data for your other gadgets, use the tethering option on your smartphone or rent a pocket Wi-Fi for a minimal fee. It can keep you safe from sketchy public Wi-Fi and protect your personal data from malicious hackers.
One of the best products on the market is Tep Wireless, a pocket wireless device that you can travel abroad without data roaming. With options to rent a teppy, or to purchase outright there’s many options for short holidays or globe trotters.
Digital nomads rely on good internet connection in order to do their work while traveling the world. Keeping your documents safe is very important, that is why you should always be suspicious when connecting to a free public Wi-Fi. The tips above should be part of your habit so it can save you from dangers of public Wi-Fi such as sniffing or malicious software.