Wi-Fi hotspots make free Internet in public spaces easy to access. You may find them in almost every business, from coffee shops to restaurants. Wi-Fi hotspots are also typical in libraries, airports, hotels, hospitals, and many facilities. You have public Wi-Fi to tap into on your laptop and connect online whenever.
As beneficial as public Wi-Fi may be, the risk is that you are relying on a shared connection. Anyone can gain access to the Wi-Fi network. Malicious hackers may see what information you send and receive through websites and applications. They may be able to gain confidential data directly from your device.
Laptops are cherished possessions that contain your personal information, sensitive data, and important fragments of your lifestyle. Protect it with the same care as a wallet or credit card. If you use your laptop on public Wi-Fi, be aware of the risks. Adjust your Internet usage and behavior accordingly.
Here are a few ways to protect your laptop on the public Internet:
Don’t rely on network security.
Public Wi-Fi is a network that anyone can access. No encryption or password is strong enough to prevent this from happening. You cannot rely on others to protect your laptop. You’ve got to do it yourself and be careful in protecting what’s on your device.
Entering usernames and passwords may not be secure on public Wi-Fi. Similarly, your data and browsing history are accessible with the Wi-Fi company in real-time. If you have to put in any username or password, utilize your mobile data and then continue your session under the public Wi-Fi. Doing this will encrypt and hide your data on your private mobile network instead of using a public one.
You should go into your device settings and ensure the laptop isn’t automatically connecting to nearby Wi-Fi connections. You want to have maximum control over what connection you’re using for your Wi-Fi.
Use a VPN to encrypt your data as best as you can.
A VPN, a virtual private network, makes public Wi-Fi more secure. It’s a service that you must download and set up beforehand. Once activated, a VPN provides a private highway for your data. All information is encrypted before it goes onto the public network. A VPN makes it more difficult for hackers to see what you’re doing. They will also have a more challenging time trying to intercept the data.
An excellent recommendation is the ASUS Instant Guard. This router service can enhance the security of public Wi-Fi connections. It comes with user-friendly VPN technology that you can set up quickly. Once activated, the Instant Guard will encrypt data for privacy and block disguised malicious websites. It makes your online browsing experience far more secure.
Avoid sharing private or financial data.
Public Wi-Fi is not where you want to do your banking and financial transactions. Don’t sign into these accounts or post anything that uses personal information online. Even if someone hacks into the public Wi-Fi network, you’re not doing anything of value to a hacker. They will pass right over you and move on to the next person.
Hackers are looking for accessible information that they can exploit. They want usernames, passwords, financial sign-in info, and data of this nature. Avoid sharing this info on public Wi-Fi. Furthermore, ensure your browser and security software is up to date on your laptop. Doing this will provide you with maximum defense against any attacks.
Pay attention to website warnings.
If you click on a website and get hit with a security warning, exit immediately. Close the browser directly. Sometimes, hackers can re-route your click to an unsecured site that looks exactly like the real version. They may capture your log-in data or more.
Likewise, avoid visiting unfamiliar websites and doing any downloading. That is where some of the biggest threats to your laptop can originate.
Log out when finished with an account.
Many sites offer you the opportunity to stay logged in, such as social media, email, and the like. Avoid staying permanently logged in. Before you close up for the day, always log off any websites. Doing this will minimize the risk of someone getting onto your accounts and changing the passwords. Be sure to log out of all accounts on the public Wi-Fi, including all social media profiles.
Don’t use the same password.
Many people continue to use one or two passwords across everything they do online. If someone should hack into a system and record your password, they can start applying it to other websites. They could gain access across banking, social media, and email accounts. Before you hit up some public Wi-Fi, get into the habit of using separate passwords on different websites.
Verify you are on the correct public Wi-Fi.
Some of us open our laptops and sign into what we think is the public Wi-Fi connection without asking. That’s a bad move. It’s easy for even a layperson to set up a bogus public Wi-Fi connection, in which they can deliberately monitor all activity. If you aren’t sure, speak to an employee at the place offering public Wi-Fi. Confirm that you have the correct name of the network.
Do not leave your laptop unattended.
Sometimes, we might ask someone to watch over our laptops while grabbing a coffee or going to the washroom. Ideally, you never want to do this. You don’t want to do this, not even in environments that feel inherently safe. Someone can quickly jump on an open laptop and get personal information with a few clicks. A passerby can also input a virus with a USB key.
If you want to be extra cautious, log off and shut your laptop. Do this any moment you leave and can no longer keep an eye on the laptop. Take the device with you if possible. Otherwise, don’t go too far without having a clear view of it.