Join Jess Stratton for an in-depth discussion in this video Using public Wi-Fi safely, part of Learning Computer Security and Internet Safety.
- More and more free public Wi-Fi connections are available to us when we're on the road or traveling. There are some considerations you should be making when connecting to these. When you connect to the network, you're first prompted as to whether it's a home, work, or public network. Be sure to select 'Public Network', so these particular rules take effect. I've opened up the 'Advanced sharing settings' that's found in Control Panel to show you. When you select that a certain network is public, these are the rules that take effect.
Network discoveries automatically turned off and file and printer sharing is automatically turned off also. This is so that none of your files are available for anyone to find on the network that's also connected to that particular free public Wi-Fi connection. In Windows 8, you can also turn off 'Network Discovery' manually, so that other computers also using the public Wi-Fi can't find you. This is good to know how to do in case you accidentally selected that you were on a home network when in fact you were on a public Wi-Fi connection.
To do this, open up the Charms bar and select 'Settings'. From here, choose 'Change PC settings' at the bottom right hand side of the screen. Once you're in 'PC settings', click 'Network' on the left hand side. Click your 'Network Connection', and then in the 'Find devices and content' section, turn this off. This means that no other device that's connected to the same network will be able to find you. When you're done, you can click the 'X' in the top right hand side of the screen. Finally, consider using a VPN connection when you're on a public network.
VPN stands for 'Virtual Private Network', and it encrypts data you send and receive while you're connected to it. You can download a VPN app like TunnelBear, which you can find at tunnelbear.com. This works on both laptop computers and small devices. You may already have to connect to a VPN when you connect to your work network. If not, you can always use this for your personal laptop also. Finally, there's one more thing. When you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, you'll get a choice to connect automatically to that network.
You'll want to uncheck that box, so you know that you're in control of what networks you connect to and when you connect to them.
- Installing updates
- Using antivirus software and protecting against viruses
- Enabling Windows Firewall
- Using password-management software
- Encrypting files that contain sensitive data
- Securing your router and protecting the SSID
- Understanding the signs of a secure website
- Checking settings for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari
- Unsubscribing from email subscriptions
- Reviewing site privacy settings
- Browsing on a public computer
- Understanding cookies
- Protecting other people's names and locations
- Fact-checking email warnings