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Tips to Keep Your Information Safe and Private While on Public Wi-Fi

By: Kevin Gardner

Today, you can find free Wi-Fi connections from several public locations. You can connect in the airport, at the mall, in restaurants and coffee shops, at the library, and more. Each day, these public networks are accessed by millions of people. In fact, three out of four people claim to use these public networks regularly. Unfortunately, what you and many others do not realize is that free public Wi-Fi is not always secure.
Even if you need a password to log in, this does not mean that what you are doing online is safe from prying eyes or nefarious hackers. While you may love being able to connect anywhere, hackers love this, too. If you try to use public Wi-Fi connections without having any protections in place, you may be risking your money and your identity.
The good news is, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself outside of only using a VPN by looking into multi-factor authentication solutions. Keep reading to learn more.

How Do Hackers Use Public Wi-Fi?
When it comes to public Wi-Fi connections, there are two main ways that a cybercriminal (a.k.a. hacker) may try to gain access to your information.

One method is being on the same network. Once the hacker is on the network with you and others, they can deploy their methods to control the communications and data being sent and received. One technique that is used is referred to as MITM – Man in the middle. With this, a cybercriminal will intercept communications and capture all the outgoing and incoming data.

Another risk you face when you are on the same network as a hacker is sharing files. If you have this enabled when you are on the network, the hacker may be able to send you files that are infected with all types of malware.

Verify the Network, Configure, Turn Off Sharing
Hackers are smart. They have access to innovative technology, just like everyone else. Take time to read the network’s name carefully and if needed, ask someone at the business if the link is legit. You can also ask what the offering IP address is. Hackers can also set up fake networks, so verifying what you are using is so important.
It would help if you also turned your sharing preferences off when you are connected to a public connection. After you have verified the network, be sure to turn the file sharing option off. Usually, this is an easy process and can be done from the control panel in the operating system you are using.

Invest in a VPN
A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is one of the most secure options available to surf on different public networks. It is also an extremely useful tool for keeping your information secure when you have logged into a public network.
With a VPN, your data traffic is encrypted, and this serves as a type of protected tunnel between the server and browser. All the information that passes through this tunnel is virtually invisible to hackers. As a result, they cannot access it.

Another benefit offered by a VPN is that it can mask your IP address with its IP address from different locations.

If you do not have a VPN, be sure that you only visit encrypted sites. This will also help you protect your data from some of the threats that were mentioned above.

You can find the HTTPS label at the beginning of a website’s address. What it means is that the connection between the server and browser has been encrypted. This also means that any data submitted on the website will be completely safe from any tampering or eavesdropping.

As you can see from the information here, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your information. Keep them in mind to enjoy a safe browsing experience. Being informed will help you stay safe.