Most people today are very comfortable with using their smartphone, tablet or even a laptop to get online from any location. Over the last decade, the number of wireless hotspots has dramatically increased to the point you will find them a just about every location from your local coffee shop to your car’s service station and your doctor’s office.
It seems that having Wi-Fi is a great marketing tool for a business of any kind. It offers a chance for customers or clients to sit back and stream a video, play an online game or even catch up with emails or other work.
The problem is that most Wi-Fi hotspots are not secure. In fact, they often use very limitedly if any Wi-Fi security, which means any information you send to these systems, including passwords, logins, personal information or financial information is sent through a clear channel, open for anyone to see.
Add Your Own Data Security
There are some wireless network solutions that you can use to provide data security. These are very small programs that are downloaded onto a device. These are applications that are used on laptops, iPhones and iPads and other devices.
These systems are designed to allow all applications to run as normal, with the program creating a VPN or virtual private network when you connect to any wireless network. They can also be used for data security on wired networks as well, providing additional security levels for all kinds of data transmissions.
These data security systems work in conjunction with your other cyber security products including firewalls, anti-virus, anti-malware and other forms of protection. With the use of the VPN technology, all information is encrypted when the data security system is used. The encryption prevents anyone from eavesdropping or any man-in-the-middle attacks that are so common when using public, clear and non-encrypted data transmission.
There are additional tools and tips that anyone can use to boost their network security when using a public Wi-Fi network. Remember, using the virtual private network technology is ultimately the best possible way to secure data. It can also be inexpensive and very easy to use. Choose a VPN data security program that allows for unlimited bandwidth, particularly if you travel a lot or use your device for work or large uploads or downloads.
Don’t Allow Your Device to Connect Automatically
All Wi-Fi enabled devices can be set to connect automatically to networks. While this may be convenient and allow you to get online quickly, it creates a very high network security risk.
It is possible for a network in a public location to be set up specifically to encourage people to share information. These networks are often found in places where lots of people gather as they can often trick people into entering banking or financial information or providing passwords to online accounts that have credit information stored on the device.
Always Use SSL Secured Sites
If shopping online from any device, always use sites that have the SSL certificate green padlock or the full green address bar. Having an SSL certificate in place ensures that all data transmitted by the website is secured and protected.
In addition to the green padlock, also makes sure you are on the HTTPS version of the site, which is present when the SSL certificate is in place. This cyber security strategy, when used in conjunction with the VPN, is a security redundancy but is well worth the protection.
Shut Off Sharing
As many people now use multiple devices and want to share music, videos or even photos back and forth, sharing is often left on with all the devices. Sharing is fine when you are on a security network or in your home and away from other sources of potential cyber security challenges or hackers.
Shutting of sharing as well as turning off network discovery will allow your device to be on a network, but invisible to other users of the same network. If you don’t do this, your device would be visible, potentially creating a cyber security risk if a hacker were monitoring or scanning the communication system.
Know Your Network Name
A very standard tool for a hacker to use is to set up a spoof name for the network that is very close to the one that you would expect in that public venue. For example, if you were in a restaurant advertising free Wi-Fi they may use the restaurant name that is misspelled just slightly, tricking people into using the spoofed network rather than the actual Wi-Fi network.
Always verify the correct Wi-Fi network and pay close attention to the details in the name of the network. A good sign that there is at least one malicious network is if there are several listed when you do a scan that appears very similar in name and left open.
It is always important to use a firewall when accessing any network, both wireless or wired. The firewall will block malicious files and communications, providing multiple layers of protection that will work with your anti-virus software and your VPN software.
Ashraf is a Technical Blog Writer from Comodo. He writes about information security, focusing on web security, operating system security and endpoint protection systems.