How to Stay Secure Using a Public Wi-Fi

Nowadays, it’s easy to be lured by the prospects of free Wi-Fi. However, if you’re thinking you’ve got it lucky finding a public Wi-Fi to access . For the uninitiated, a public Wi-Fi could be heaven-sent. However, on the contrary, it actually is a cause of alarm. Big time.

Yes, Wi-Fi’s such a blessing. Especially if you’re bringing your i-gadgets with you, be it an iPhone or an i-tablet lodged on a sleek iPad mini keyboard case. Not to mention, Android ones too. But an open public Wi-Fi, a come-on in most public establishments (e.g., coffee shops, restaurants, hotels), is like an animal trap. It lures you in only to make your data vulnerable to the machinations of wily hackers on the prowl – in the process.

Here are some useful tips to get you the security you need while online:

1. Firewall’s up.

If you haven’t heard of the term, firewall is your first line of defense against unauthorized access to your computer system. Akin to its more bulky namesake in the fight against fire, computer firewalls protect your computer by controlling what programs comes in and out of your system.
By default, Windows has its guard up and enables fire wall settings by default if you had it toggled during initial set-up. If you’re doubtful, go to Control Panel and have the Firewall Settings toggled to on for both Public and Private Network. Don’t forget to check the Notify me button when Windows Firewall blocks a new app.

2. Sharing down.

This is not the time to practice Christmas. Once data is shared, your problems surge to the front seat. As a remedy, turn off all sharing. You can do this by opening Network and Sharing Center straight from your Control Panel. From there, click “Change private advanced sharing settings” found in the left pane.

Then follow this through by turning network discovery found under Private, Files and printer sharing, both for Guest or Public. Additionally, make sure to turn off file and printer sharing. Don’t forget to click Save Changes to get things going.

3. Make the most of VPN to access hotspot.

Even with the onslaught of malware, not all sites or search engine for that matter can give you a secure SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encrypted protection. Too bad. As a result, your data flowing through these seemingly “harmless” networks becomes an open book for unscrupulous hackers and bad programs. Getting a VPN or Virtual Private Network could be your best shot at protecting yourself when using Wi-Fi hotspots. VPNs are your gateway to a secure connection to open networks.

And the process is a cinch, for most VPNs: set up an account, install the corresponding software and log-in. Voila. Examples of VPN include ProXPN. On the down side, you may have to lose a few dollars monthly.

Another option is to give Hotspot Shield, a shot, should the notion of shelling some cash frightens you. Then again, you may have to deal with some ads.

4. Update your software.

Getting your software updated is vital in your fight against malware and cyber criminals. It’s like getting the best elite police force or RoboCop to guard the city streets. Operating system updates make sure your system is running at its “bestest best” and security holes patched. Always remember that the enemy out there is constantly evolving; you will need a vigilant eye to keep things under wraps.