The more people you share an internet connection with, the more vulnerable you are to data theft. That is why it is always safe to browse the internet from home or at the workplace where the networks are uncongested and secure. But you cannot hide in this comfort zone forever; you will occasionally need to use public internet such as a coffee shop or airport Wi-Fi. When that happens, how do you secure your data? Please read on to discover 5 tips on how to stay safe while using airport Wi-Fi.
Be keen to note any suspicious pop-ups
One way of being logged while using airport Wi-Fi is through malicious pop-up screens. It could be a prompt asking you to sign up for “advanced free features”, to install a browser extension, or even to install some software that increases your device’s download speed. Although some of these prompts are legitimate, don’t sign up for any of them unless you are very sure that it is from a safe source.
Note that as in any other public Wi-Fi, airport Wi-Fi is never foolproof. You should always check the name of the Wi-Fi you are signing into so as to confirm that it indeed belongs to the airport. While at it, you will be safer if you spare a minute to read and understand the terms and conditions that the network demands. What data does the network collect from your device? For what purpose is the data collected? Does the network have sufficient security measures to keep the data they collect from you safe? These, among others, are issues that you may need to check out first before logging into an airport Wi-Fi.
Take charge of your own safety
How strong are your cybersecurity measures? Before logging into unverified hotspots in the airport, first ensure that your security updates are, well, up-to-date! Your browser and operating system need to be optimized for data security with a legitimate, strong security program.
At the very least, ensure that the free Windows Defender is fully functional before anything else. It may not be enough to keep strong malware away but it will put off mild internet threats.
Using a VPN
To many people, VPN is the magical tool that enables them to access geo-restricted websites. But there is a more fundamental reason why VPN exists: It shields you from opportunistic cyber eavesdroppers who are always out to hack into your browsing activity and steal your data, especially when you use public Wi-Fi.
But what is VPN?
A VPN, Virtual Private Network, is an encrypted network that allows your browsing device to access the internet as though you were on the VPN’s location and/or local network. In simpler terms, a VPN is a network that has a secure computer (server) that you can connect your computer/phone/tablet with remotely and use its internet connection to surf the internet.
Connecting your browsing device- smartphone, PC, tablet, iPod- to a VPN means that any data that comes to or leaves your device is encrypted and made to appear as if it is originating from a remote, secure server. For example, if you were in China but are using a US-based VPN, it will appear as if you are coming from a location within the US. Anyone snooping on untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots will, therefore, have a hard time trying to fish for your computer’s browsing details.
There are tons of VPNs on the internet for you to choose from depending on your location, surfing preferences, and budget. The key is to know which VPN serves you best. What’s more, connecting to such a network is pretty straightforward too, really!
Is your browser giving you any red flags?
If you are keen, you will notice a padlock icon on the left-hand side of your URL bar. If the site you are on is secure, the padlock will be locked. If it is insecure, the padlock is unlocked. Some browsers will even display the words “secure” or “insecure” to let you know what you are getting yourself into. Don’t ignore these warnings.
Turn off file and printer sharing
If you are used to sharing files and printing documents through trusted networks at home or in the office, then you probably have your computer’s “file and printer options” turned on. Ensure that this feature is turned off whenever you use airport Wi-Fi so that no unauthorized persons can download or print your personal files.
Airport Wi-Fi is free and welcoming, but you must be careful not to welcome data thieves into your personal space and offer your pertinent data to them on a golden platter. The 5 tips above will help you secure your personal identity while using public internet connections.
Author Bio: Mjellma is the Communication Manager of Tactica. She has experience in the realm of digital marketing for almost 10 years and is very updated to the latest trends. When she is not working, you can find her socializing physically.
Mjellma is a guest blogger. All opinions are her own.