Walls Have Eyes!

Is public WiFi safe to use?

Safety concerns over public WiFi hit the headlines (again) recently, when the FA advised players and staff to avoid using it when they go to Russia for the 2018 World Cup. The FA has a point — public WiFi can be insecure — but there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

Here are four tips to help you:

If you’re lost and trying to find a map of where you are, look up a phrase in the local language or just work out when the next train is due, then public WiFi is likely to be absolutely fine. Security concerns relate to data you want kept private such as passwords.

The easiest way to keep yourself 100% safe on a public WiFi network is to stick to general surfing and only access sensitive sites over a connection you control; don’t log into your bank account or anything that could be hacked or exploited.

Public WiFi hotspots are run by somebody and that somebody should be able to give you the exact details of their hotspot. For example, in train stations and airports, there may be posters displayed with the name of the network, whereas in coffee shops, pubs and such like you may have to ask the staff.

Make sure you do, rather than just connecting to the network which says “Free WiFi”, as this could be run by just anybody.

This is essentially a “belt-and-braces” approach. Using a VPN turns a public network into a private one and, if you’re using public WiFi to access a corporate network, then this is probably how you will be getting remote access in any case. For everybody else, there are plenty of programmes to let you set up your own VPN.

Two-factor authentication is about combining something you know (your password) with something you keep on you. Banks tend to implement it using card readers and corporate IT departments with RSA tokens, but most online service providers simply send a text message to your mobile phone to confirm that data is being sent to the correct person.

Some services will actively prompt you to set this up, others will only enable it if you dig into the settings to activate it. Either way, two-factor authentication can provide you with an extra layer of protection, if your password is compromised.

Close down old accounts so that you’re at less risk of your data being compromised if they are breached. Resist the temptation to recycle passwords and, if you find numerous individual passwords too much of a chore to remember, use a password manager.

Consider changing your password regularly so that, if your accounts are compromised, there is a good chance you will have changed your passwords before they can be used. And last, but by no means least, use proper security software, including on your mobile devices.

Originally published at weseenow.co.uk on October 16, 2017.

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