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Tips to stay safe on Public Wifi

Tips to stay safe on Public Wifi

Internet has indeed made travelling much easier, right from bookings at start of journey to shopping souvenirs at end of trip. Internet is everywhere you go, through that cell phone or the WIFI hot spots in the places you tour. When we are travelling many of us save bucks and use public WiFi. I agree they are like boon to travelers, but if you are not cautious, hackers can make them fatal. Yes, how about someone withdraws all money from your 20 year running saving account, or hacks CIA from your IP. You have to play safe, and here is how.

Everything is in the name

Joining the right network is the first step towards your safety. Public WIFI might not be monitored closely, and might not have dedicated administrators sitting behind and ensuring safety of all the people that join the network. But still it has basic level of security measures to keep you safe. The point being is that you need to connect with the right network. Hackers are very smart, and they will create another network with almost similar name, for you to gobble up and fall into their trap.

Let us show you how, the right name of the public WIFI network might be Caravan, while the hackers will create another network in the same neighborhood with the name of ‘Karavan’ or ‘Carawan’. With these networks showing on your radar, one can get confused very easily, especially if you are in a hurry to check maybe what is the fare of taxi between x point and y point.

Before using any Public WIFI network, you need to be double sure. Always check the spelling before you join any network. If you join a network created by a hacker, they will get access to all your vital details.

Beware of shoulder surfers

This might sound silly and childish, but ‘Shoulder Surfers’ exist even in these times. This technique is the easiest to be able to hack into any strangers system. These thieves or hackers will keep an eye on you without letting you know. They will roam around you, they will capture a seat beside you, they will cautiously look into your computers screen. Their objective is to see you type your password, see you use your email address, see you type in your OTP.

Once they see what you have typed, the password or the vital detail is with them. They will tweak that detail and use it against you to hack in your systems, in your email accounts, in your bank accounts, and what not. In cases when you are in a hurry you never take a look around while typing your passwords, and this is what these hackers make use of.

Remember your typing is never too fast to outsmart them. They are expert in this work, and they have practiced it too many times to be become impeccable. Always keep a practice of shielding your screen while entering passwords, and stay safe.

Financial transactions on public WIFI is a big No

We highly suggest that keep the usage of Public WIFI for only accessing basic things, like directions, or using a map application, or inquiring a tourist spot, etc. Never follow a practice of making financial transactions on Public WiFi. Anything which involves money, or sharing of some sensitive information should not be carried out on a public WIFI. Remember that these hackers do not have personal interest in you, they are after your money, or if they sense that you have sensitive information, they will go after that too.

You can always pay for a purchase with a swipe from your credit or debit card. There is absolutely no need of connecting to the public WIFI and paying them online. Urgency can’t be big enough to refrain you from being safe. There is a big no to e-commerce, Net banking, sharing bank details, emails to bank officials, or things like that.

You should even refrain accessing your email account on public WIFI. If hackers get access to your email account, they can easily tap in to your other accounts associated with that email. The damage caused could be immense.

Log in or no log in

Not everything is meant to be browsed over Public WiFi. It is only meant to ease your way finding a great restaurant, or help you navigate though twisted lanes in some distant destinations. It is always a good advice to not rely on Public WIFI, but in international trips these things come in very handy. If you are causally browsing through the internet then there is no harm. If you want to check the score of a game, or read a restaurant review, or catch up with local news, you are good to go.

But in cases when you have to log in to some account, which necessarily not be your bank account, then do there is a red flag. Always keep in mind, to not use the websites that require you to provide log in id and a password. Refrain from using any such websites.The password that you might use on public WIFI might be a password to many of your other accounts.

Your safety will be jeopardized if that password gets hacked. You are free to any n number of search queries on internet, but never log in to websites that require a password. Keep a note of that in your mind.

Look out for HTTPS

The basic of Internet Browsing Protocols dictate that sites with SSL encryption are safe. These days every website comes with a SSL encryption, though the certificate provider of these SSL encryption might not be a prominent one, but if HTTPS is there, it means you are safe on that website. However if you find any website that doesn’t has SSL encryption, then that is a very big red flag. You should be immediately alarmed if you are accessing such websites.

The purpose of SSL encryption is that the information you will send through that website will be encrypted. It includes the log in id, the passwords, or any information that you enter in that website. This means that you can use websites with log in and passwords, if it has HTTPS, though it is still advisable to never use passwords on public WIFI, but theortically you are safe.

The best thing about SSL encryption is that hackers have no way around this, and these sites are deemed to be safe. The key which is used for encryption and decryption is either on your device or on the server.

Passwords that are stored

On regular days you might use Google Chrome to browse, (which contains all saved Logins and Passwords), which is also connected to your Google account with gmail id that stores passwords and log in ids every time you use that website. But when you go on a trip, browse internet through different browser like Opera or IE. Chances are that while going on a trip you will connect to many WIFI networks, like from that of the hotel, or from that of the airport, or from that of the restaurant you will visit.

By using different internet browser, you will keep hackers far from the sensitive and vital information. If some one hacks into your device, and during that time you use the Google Chrome they might get access to the saved information. Doing this is difficult, but remember that in digital world there are many back doors and loop holes.

Once you are done with the browsing, keep in mind to clear the browsing history, even in the new browser. Never opt for saving passwords while accessing internet through that different browser.

Public computers are unsafe

If you are going on a long trip, and are determined to not be disturbed by work related messages or emails, then chances are that you will carry bare minimum devices. The maximum you will carry will be a cell phone, and you will choose to leave behind the tablets, and the laptops. But situations can come where you will need to use a bigger device. No matter what the case is, never ever use a public computer installed at places like Libraries, café, community centres, hotels, etc.

These public computers are the most unsafe devices in the internet world. It is a very big no if you are planning to use that public computer to make financial transactions. They are most prone to malwares like Trojan that can steal your sensitive information. In most of the cases these public computers will have ages old operating system without an anti virus software.

The infrastructure of these public computers is the very first thing that you should check, before making any login. Remember that public computers are double the unsafe, as it is a public computer connected to a public WIFI.

Remember to Log Out

This might sound like an unnecessary advice, but if you will notice your browsing behavior you will realize how relevant it is in present days. Most of the times we are accessing internet from trusted networks and devices that belong to us. It makes us worry free and had developed the habit of never logging out from the websites. In most of the cases there is a mobile application for it, which eliminates the entire need of logging out. But when you are not connected to your home network, remember to log out.

By logging out from any site you browse, ends the session and ceases the connection between your device to the server. In case of being hacked, the hacker will not be able to connect to the server of the website and will be unable to steal your information. By logging out from every website you log in to, you will be way safer on public WIFI.

This goes especially if you are using public devices. These devices are used by hundreds of people on day to day basis. Even if any hacker doesn’t steals your information, then the person who is going to use the computer after you, will have access to your information.

Turn off the file sharing

We have already asserted on the fact that in digital world there are many back doors and loopholes. When ever you are joining any Public Network, make sure that the settings of your devices are in tandem to your safety priorities. To avoid hackers to gain access to your device always keep the ‘File Sharing’ option of your device turned off, because this can be a door to enter your device by hackers. In case if you have made any changes to your setting for some work, be wary of this.

Majority of the people, including those who are very tech savvy and know the technical ins and outs of internet connections also forget checking their file sharing option. Majority of the people never in their lives use this feature. To top our troubles, many operating Systems might have default folders shared.

This file sharing option could also become a route for inserting any malware into your device. You got to understand that your safety is in your hands. The first measure for safe browsing has to be taken by you.

Tips to stay safe on Public Wifi - VPN

VPN are best

This tip is more technical and many of you might not know about the advantages of VPN, so let us tell you that it is one way to keep your browsing safe on internet. If you do not have a VPN service installed on your devices, then do it before heading out for your vacation. A VPN software will encrypt your data traffic and create a tunnel between browser and server which is hard to be penetrated by hackers. It will act as a shield between you and the hackers.

The best thing that a VPN will do is that it will mask your IP address with that of VPN server. Your real IP address will get hidden from all the people trying to penetrate your devices. Your IP address will be accessible by only the VPN software server. For all the people that do not know about IP and hacking must be aware that all things unwanted start from your IP getting revealed.

With no knowledge about your IP address, it will become harder for hackers to trace your device on internet. It might not be invincible, by VPN can save you from lots of trouble.

Firewall is a must

In present times, every electronic device that can be connected to internet or other devices come with a firewall. It is the bare minimum protection that you can give to your devices. The most important thing to keep in mind is to always ensure that the firewall is enabled. IT is important to know that there are many applications on your device which require access to over ride your fire wall. Before heading out on a trip check all the applications that have access through firewall. If there is any suspicious app, revoke the access.

Firewall might not be the ultimate protection, but helps a great deal. In present times the device manufacturers take special care of building firewalls that have futility and are able to protect you from hack threats. By nature firewall will block hackers from unauthorized access, and also monitors the data packets that get in to your system from network.

Firewall checks every piece of information entering and leaving your device. If there is any malicious virus attached with that piece of information, it gets blocked. In short Firewalls give the basic protection to your devices.

Do not be anti to Anti Virus

Firewalls in present times are very advanced, and have eliminated the need of having a anti virus software in devices. But it doesn’t means that you should ignore the benefits and power of an anti virus software. This goes especially for people who deal with sensitive information or have huge stash of money in their bank accounts. It is highly advisable to be on the safe side. Another most important thing about keeping anti virus is to always keep it updated and let it sync information with its server.

These anti virus work in the real time environment, and if they detect any new threat, they exchange information with their server or if a new threat is trending, an anti virus package is created by the server. These Anti virus software will cost you few dollars, and can save a fortune for you. They are the ultimate layer of protection that you can buy for yourself.

It is to take a note of that if you are using a good anti virus which is vetted by internet users, then you can also choose to transact financially on public WIFI. This is the kind of protection it gives.

Two factor authentication

If there will be people that will want to gain access in to your private devices, steal your information, bring harm to you. Then there will also be people that will do anything in their capacity to help prevent such situations. Two factor authentication is one of the boons of the internet. In present times many websites have it, and if not they will require additional verification if you are accessing your account from any unfamiliar device. This helps a lot in getting your private accounts being hacked.

When you are travelling make sure that you use two factor authentication in the websites that hold vital details about your financial transactions or contain sensitive information. Most of the important websites that you use like bank or email, have the option of two factor authentication. So make use of it.

This will make login in to your accounts difficult by adding extra layer of confirmation by SMS code or call. In present times, even if you are not travelling you should always keep the two factor authentication on.

Turn off the WIFI Port

Another good practice of keeping your devices safe is by turning off your Wifi once your work is done. By keeping it on you are leaving a channel open through which hackers can penetrate in your device. In many of the latest devices especially the laptops, WIFI port is always on, so pay extra attention to it. Before leaving for a vacation, do a little google search to find how you can turn on and turn off your WIFI port on laptops of the make you have. This little practice can keep you safe.

It is also highly recommended that while connected to the public WIFI wrap up your browsing or internet work in least possible time. This reduces the window of your device exposure to hackers. It is also recommended to never save a public WIFI network even if you are coming back to that place.

The point being is to keep that option of connecting to the WIFI network in your own hands. It will keep you safe and you will be in the control of situation and not at dispense of circumstances.

Home is where your Wifi should connect automatically!


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