The Dangers of Free WiFi: Protect Yourself Now!

As much as we all love being connected to the rest of the world for free, it does come with risks. How do you protect yourself on free WiFi?
Sherryn
de Vos
Published: Wednesday, May 24th 2017
General
We have all been there, settling into a coffee shop, flipping open the laptop and connecting to the WiFi. Or enjoying a lunch in the public park and seeing that you can log on and browse the local, free hotspot. I mean, this is a bit of a rush isn’t it? Who actually says no to free anymore, especially with costs rising? And taking the opportunity to try and download that song you have been pining for, or checking your email without being charged is too tempting to say no. But protecting yourself in this day and age is pretty important too. With the latest Cyberattacks that impacted organisations all over the world, people have realised just how important it is to take every precaution possible online. So, here are a few tips to safeguard yourself online.

1. Transferring Sensitive Information

Are you needing to transfer the latest company financials to your CEO by COB today? Perhaps your local coffee shop is not the best choice to do this. If you are logging on to your banking account to transfer money too, a free WiFi hotspot might not be the wisest move to do so. Our advice is to rather get to a protected and secure spot and complete transactions then. You never know who is watching!

2. Airport Hotspots

Weigh up the difference between the security in your local coffee shop and the airport’s hotspot for a moment. Which do you think is more secure? As much as the airport hotspot is useful to log on in a foreign country to let everyone know you are there, this is as far as you should use it. Rather go to the retailers at the airport grab a cup of coffee at a restaurant and get onto a network that requires a password!

3. File Sharing

This may sound obvious, but you do forget to do it a lot! Make sure you turn off your Airdrop and File sharing features when you are on a shared/public hotspot. Whether you are on Mac or Windows, it is probably a good idea to limit the amount of apps and services you have that can connect online. If you have a Mac or iPhone, it is probably a good idea to secure yourself completely by setting your AirDrop to contacts only. You just don’t know who is out there!
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4. Google Documents And Email

Are you needing to work out of the office without being connected to your trusted WiFispot? Why don’t you try downloading the emails and documents you need and working offline? It is a really handy habit to get into to start turning your WiFi off every time you leave a trusted network! You will start only connecting to the networks that you absolutely trust and your documents will be protected!

5. Antivirus and Browser Extensions

You should already have some kind of protection already loaded on your system. Antimalware protects vital information against online attacks. Whether you use the Malwarebytes or Sophos for Mac, we suggest you make sure yours is up to date now! For added protection, you can download browser tools to protect your privacy. The good ones can essentially control what’s blocked and what isn’t when you want it. It can lock out just about anything when you need it to. UBlock Origin and Disconnect are great options, with the latter going further by protecting you from same network attacks and hijacking!