Eating, walking, sleeping or working – The one thing that we are connected to all the time is the internet. More than a necessity today it, has become an addiction, we cannot separate ourselves from the online world, literally half our lives have become virtual. We share happiness virtually, display talent virtually, we play games and, thanks to Covid-19, we are even studying virtually.
I have often seen people at airports, cafes, libraries and hotels, search for hotspots. We feel that these public networks that provide free internet are safe to use and thus, more than often we use them without a second thought. Well! the truth is information that we pass or share using the private network can be easily accessed by a third party. These public networks are not shielded by a layer of encryption and thus they become the easiest points for the hackers to attack.
As per a cybersecurity insight report, every year more than 200 million people across the world fall victim to cyber-attacks, some get their emails hacked and a small percentage lose their financial data. Sadly, most of these instances happen while using the public Wi-Fi network.
So, how should you use the public network? Here, are some tips to help you identify the risks and use public WIFI networks safely.
- Use only if it is encrypted
Encryption, as we know, provides a security shield to your data. The information that you share online is transmitted into a code, that is neither accessible not easily decoded by a third party. Thus, send your information through a website that provides encryption or through a secure network that is encrypted.
But then how would you know if the website is secure? Well! it’s easy, look out for HTTPS, the ‘s’ here stands for secure. The thumb rule is to keep visiting the pages that have an HTTPS, rest ignore.
- Use Mobile apps only on secure networks.
Unlike websites, mobile apps do not have an indicator, some applications are very poorly secured, thus if you are using an app to file taxes or make payments, then it is best to use them only on a secure Wi-Fi network.
- Don’t stay too long
Whether it is social networking or any other site, do not remain logged in to the account for long, finish your task quickly and log out.
- Watch out for the Alerts
The best web browsers will send you an alert when you try to use an unethical or deceitful website. Do not ignore this signal, end the session and log out of the internet as soon as you receive these alerts.
- Switch off auto-connect
The public WIFI points are not password-protected, thus, as soon as you come within the vicinity of these points, they get auto connected. Thus, go to your phone setting and turn off the auto connect feature. You cannot give control of your device to a third person without even knowing.
- Install browser plug-in
The browser add-ons can really be helpful. These plug-ins force the browser to use the secured layer of encryption on the most used sites and the popular ones.
- Use VPN on your devices
If you are a traveller and you cannot help but use the public hotspots, then the best thing to do is to get a VPN account. VPNs or Virtual Private Networks encrypt the data and the traffic between the user’s device and the internet, thus protecting your sessions from being watched by a third eye.
The Final Word:
A free Wi-Fi connection might seem like an attractive proposition, but looking at the growing threat of cyber-attacks, it is not an advisable thing to do. We need to be more vigilant, while using these networks, use the tips stated in the article to identify the red flags and use the freebies only if you badly require.