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Staying Safe on Public Wi-Fi

Using public Wi-Fi is dicey. In 2017 a visitor to one of our security seminars had his tablet hacked and data were stolen while using Public Wi-Fi. If you are not vigilant, data held on devices is a beacon for anyone with the proper software tools to effortlessly see what you are doing.

Hackers can easily steal your passwords or other secret data, particularly, from multiple sites if you choose the same password to log in. Criminals can create their own Wi-Fi hotspot, together with an ordinary name such as, “Public Wi-Fi” to entice you to link in to steal your information.

Using public Wi-Fi also puts you in danger for something known as, ‘session capture’.  This is where a hacker who is watching your traffic, captures your open online session (such as a Facebook or Instagram or an email client such as Google) through the theft of browser cookies through which a service identifies you. Once they steal the cookie, the hacker can then assume your identity on those sites, they can also discover any logins or passwords stored inside the cookie.

This year we are putting together seminars and blogs with helpful ways to stay safe using public Wi-Fi across all your devices.

Here are some tips to get you going.

Network Settings on your PC for Public Wi-fi

For public networks, make sure you turn on your firewall. Windows default settings enable firewall automatically, to make sure; open Control Panel, click, Windows Firewall, click, On, for both public and private networks.

Sharing

Many people are unaware of the problems of sharing with other networks, largely because they are unaware the options to do this exist.

If you need to alter your network settings, open Network and Sharing Centre from Control Panel, click, Change private advanced sharing settings. Under Private, Files and printer sharing, Guest or Public, switch off network discovery, remember to click Save. It’s important to Switch off file and printer sharing too.

To switch off sharing in Mac OS X: it’s Sharing Options > Change Advanced Sharing Settings.

Browser Extensions

An effective tool for online security is Browser extensions. These enable a secure connection when you are surfing popular sites like; Google, Facebook, eBay, or Amazon. XML config files for both Chrome and Firefox can also be created to add security to more sites not listed and runs with Windows, Mac, and Linux.

VPN

Our recommendation is that you connect to the web using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you are utilising free Wi-Fi, to ensure, surfing the internet or email usage is secure against observation or theft. Search engines and websites that don’t use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypted protection or more vulnerable to hackers wanting to view or steal your data.

Updates

Updates may seem as though they are the bane of your life, however, it’s crucial you make sure that your updates to any and all software, is kept up to date including any antivirus or malware shields as well as your operating system. Updates to your OS maintain smooth and efficient running on your device as well as stop security breaches.

Bear in mind your online information is never one totally secure, so the more layers of security needed to breach your system, the harder it is for anyone to steal. For more information about how you can stay safe, contact a member of our team today.

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