Tips on Using Public WiFi Securely and Safely

by Aeyne Schriber on February 8, 2010 in Wi-Fi

The increased availability of public Internet access and WiFi has added convenience to daily tasks and flexibility to our lifestyle.  Although public Internet access is a great tool for working in a mobile environment, it is important to remember a few tips on how to use public WiFi securely and safely.

Enable Your Firewall

Before you connect to a public Internet access point, make sure you have the firewall enabled in the Windows operating system or a firewall installed from another provider such as Norton or McAfee.  Enabling your firewall will help prevent intruders from accessing your PC on an unsecured network.

Be Aware of Sniffers

As a general rule, most public Internet access points are unsecured which invites criminals who sniff around your connection to try and steal personal information.  This is the reason you want to avoid accessing websites that contain sensitive information such as your financial records or banking information.  On an unsecured network it is very easy for criminals to intercept your data during transmission.

Avoid Using File Sharing

If you use a file sharing program make sure you disable it before connecting to a public Internet access point.  This will prevent other users on the network from viewing your information and files.

Use a Proxy

There are many proxy connections that you can obtain online.  These are connections that hide your IP address and other information that you do not want others to view on a network that is unsecured.  A proxy connection allows you to surf the Internet anonymously and provides you with added security on open public access networks.

Disable Automatic Connection

Disable the feature in your PC that provides automatic connection to a network whenever it detects an access point.  This provides you with more control over when your PC is connected to a network.

Clear the Cookie Cache

Before you connect to a public Internet access point clear all of the cookies out of your PC that store information from websites that you visited such as your password and user name information.  On an open public access network, it is very easy for unauthorized users to view the information that is stored in your cookie cache.

Consider an Access Card

If you are a mobile worker and are dealing with sensitive information, considering using an access card to obtain an Internet connection.  This is a card that allows you to connect your cellular phone to your PC to obtain Internet connectivity instead of using a public Internet access point.

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