Public internet access can be a scary thing. Consider this, you find a great site where you want to play Bingo, you also find a Jackpotjoy Bingo bonus code and you enter your credentials and sensitive data, from a local pub, no less, only to realize days later that your details have been stolen and someone spent your money on their own purchases.
How is this possible? Unsecured public connections can cause the uncaring and unwary a lot of problems, financial and otherwise. In order to avoid those, follow these steps to stay safe when using public internet.
Always Hide Your Device
Whether you use mobile phones or laptops to connect to the internet, you can tell your device what to do once it connects. For mobile phones, you can simply select not to make your device visible. That should do more than enough to stop many hackers. On laptops, the operating system usually asks you how it should treat the connection. If you select the public option, more safety measures are taken to keep your device hidden.
Install an Antivirus Software
Antiviruses are no longer just tools which fight computer viruses, they also protect from various attacks. Many antiviruses are free to download and offer basic protection, including warnings about possible volatile public connections.
Limit Your Time on a Public Connection
If you are connected to a public WiFi, you should limit your connection. Be mindful of who else might be connected and try and limit your time. If you only need to visit a site to get news, do that and go offline, especially if you find that the connection is dodgy, or an unencrypted one.
Do Not Type Sensitive Data
If your connection is not secure, never type anything of your own personal data, or anyone else’s for that matter. A public connection should not be used to make financial transactions of any kind, neither should it be used for logging into existing accounts.
Disable File Sharing and Network Discovery
Many people like enabling file sharing by default on their computers so that they do not have to walk from one to another with a USB stick. Sending data via the network, especially using ethernet cables is much faster than a USB stick, or at least, more convenient at most times. Be sure to check your file sharing settings before you connect to a public WiFi.
Some Connections Have Terms and Conditions
Some public access connections require you to agree to some terms and conditions if you want to use them. Always read those when you get the chance and if they seem shady or they provide no security for their users, simply stay away. You can easily find a good and secure WiFi connection with just a little effort, no matter where you are, so settling for one with bad terms and conditions should not be even considered.
Do Not Download Files
This should be obvious, but try not to download files over a public connection, especially if you do not have the latest security patches for your device.
These are some tips you can apply to your everyday browsing in order to stay safe when using public connections, even though the safest way would be not to use them at all.