How to safely use open WiFi hotspots?

ttopp

When I’m using open WiFi networks for anything more than a quick bit of casual browsing, what steps are necessary to stay secure?

Topic: Security
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jimlynch
Vote Up (5)

6 ways to use public Wi-Fi hot spots safely
http://www.cnet.com/how-to/6-ways-to-use-public-wi-fi-hot-spots-safely/

"Places like Starbucks, neighborhood cafes, Barnes&Noble, and universities are all jumping on the "free Wi-Fi" bandwagon--hey, it's trendy. As a result, more of us are connecting to these networks without realizing the security risks.

But did you read the fine print? Wi-Fi hot spots are unsecured networks that hackers like to take advantage of. Everything--including your data, account information and passwords, Google searches, and finances--can become available to the hacker who wants it badly enough.

So before you pay your bills or write your genius business plan at the local cafe, get to know these six useful practices."

Dr. Rose
Vote Up (4)

1)Turn off sharing:If you use a laptop, you might have it set to share files and folders with other computers at work or home. You don't want these settings on when you're using a public network.2)Don't automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks:It's handy when your smartphone, tablet and laptop automatically connect to your home and work networks, but that can lead to trouble when you're out and about.3)Use security softwareYour laptop should have the same anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall protection that your home computer does. The firewall is particularly important when on a public network. Its entire purpose is to keep snoops out of your system.

MGaluzzi
Vote Up (4)

The top 5 things I suggest are:

1. Use a VPN.

2. Turn off sharing on your laptop.

3. Use HTTPS Everywhere, a free browser extension from EFF.

4. Enable the firewall on your laptop. 

5. Don’t log into sensitive sites like your bank account. For sensitive accounts that you just have to use, Gmail for example, set up and use 2-factor authentication. 

 

Even doing all of there, you are not completely secure - the initial communication with a proxy is unsecured, for example. I feel comfortable using public WiFi after taking these steps and I think the remaining risk level is acceptable. You have to make that call for yourself though.

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