We all like free WiFi, but before connecting happily to a public network you should know that you put your data in danger when you access the web through a connection that does not have the least security. Whether you connect to an open network that does not have a password, or to an establishment that provides you with a password such as hotels, restaurants or airports, to name a few; You have to take into account that any other person who connects to the same network can gain access to your personal information.
Whether you connect using a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself when connecting to a public WiFi network, and thus ensure that you are not taking any risks just for the convenience of accessing to the Internet outside the home or at work.
Check The Network Name
It is important that when connecting to a network, we verify the name of it, if you get an open WiFi network that does not ask for any type of authentication and whose name does not ring a bell except for the code of some car part, it is better to avoid it. If you are in a hotel, cafe, shopping centre, etc., look for the network that has the name of the site. If the network is password protected and only offers access to your clients, so much the better.
It is easier for a malicious hacker to intercept your information through a Man in the middle attack if you go and connect to an open network without any security just for wanting a few minutes of free Internet. For this reason, avoid connecting to networks called “Free Internet”, they can easily be baited for unsuspecting users.
Disable Network File Sharing Options
At home and at work you are probably used to networking with other computers, this allows others to see the name of your PC in their list of connected devices and they can even access the files that you have stored in your public folder, or on your entire hard drive, depending on the options you have checked. If you use Windows go to Control Panel> Networks and Internet> Network and Sharing Center. From there, deactivate all the options that have to do with sharing files on public networks.
When we connect to a new network for the first time from Windows, the operating system asks if it is a public connection or if you are at home or at work, be careful when selecting this option, since if you treat an open network as If it were your home, you will have the network sharing options enabled by default, and your computer will also be visible to anyone who connects to that network. Nothing sure.
From OS X you can go to the system preferences and press the share icon, from there you can uncheck the box for sharing files.
Activate Two-Step Authentication
One of the easiest ways to protect all of our online accounts is to activate two-step verification on all sites that offer it. With this method you have a double barrier of protection against any attack, no matter if the malicious user takes your password, he will still need the second authorization step in order to access the account. There are more and more services that offer this type of security tools, and although they can be somewhat annoying in some cases, the extra security they offer makes them worth using.
Use a VPN
By using a VPN you are creating a virtual private network that keeps all your traffic under an extra security blanket. While browsing, all the data you send and receive is encrypted between the VPN server and your device. One of my favourite services is Spotflux is available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android for a very affordable price. It also has a free version that offers protection from all your web traffic, and you can also install it in Google Chrome. Another excellent option is Hello Unblocker. If neither of these satisfies you, options are superfluous to a Google search away.