How to Use Wi-Fi Networks without Compromising Your Data

wifiFree wi-fi networks have become much more common as more businesses have started to add this perk for their customers. It’s convenient to be able to check your e-mail or do some research while you’re enjoying a hot coffee and scone. However, while these wi-fi hot spots make it easy for you to log in while you’re out and about, they also pose great security risks for your personal data.

Many public wi-fi spots are not protected, and hackers can easily steal your personal data or try to attack your computer or mobile device with spyware or malware. It is important to learn how to use these networks securely so you can protect your data while also enjoying the convenience of connecting when you are away from home.

Here’s how you can use wi-fi networks without compromising your data:

Activate Your Firewall

Your firewall is your first level of protection whether you are connecting to the Internet at home or on a public network. While your firewall won’t make your computer invincible to attacks (don’t feel too overconfident and start downloading programs from untrusted sources), it will provide a strong barrier between your computer and malicious programs.

Activate the firewall that has been installed on your computer, and investigate whether you need to purchase stronger protection.

Use a Secure Connection

Most of the times that you connect to the Internet, you will see http:// in front of the URL. When you are using a secure connection, you will see https:// in front of your URL. This is especially useful when you are on sites that ask for your personal data, such as when you are banking or shopping.

Most of the sites that handle sensitive data will automatically provide this secure connection. For some other sites, such as when accessing your e-mail, you can enter https:// before the regular URL to get a secure connection.

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

You can’t always control whether or not you have a secure connection on a particular website or through a particular wi-fi spot. However, you can control how secure your computer is by using a virtual private network (VPN), which encrypts all data that comes and goes from your computer.

You can download free VPN software or choose a commercial service with more security for a small monthly fee.

Use Only Trusted Wi-Fi Spots

When you open up your network connection center, you are likely to see a dozen or more available connections. However, not all of these are safe to use. It is important to only connect to trusted networks, such as those offered by the business you are patronizing. Any other networks could be created for the sole purpose of stealing your data or infecting your computer with malware.

Disable Wi-Fi When Not in Use

The option to connect to wi-fi networks must be turned on in order for your computer to connect. However, if you leave this option turn on all the time, you leave open the possibility of someone else connecting to your computer. Close this security loophole by turning off your wi-fi connectivity when you are not online.

Securing your data when you are connected to a wi-fi hotspot requires only a few simple steps and a little common sense. By taking these steps, you can ensure that you keep your computer (and your personal data) safe and keep enjoying the ease and convenience of connecting to the Internet when you are away from home.

Sarah Clare is a writer and oversees the site, where she has recently been researching project planning software. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys cooking and scrapbooking.

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