Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Public wireless safety

For all of the merits of the age of digitalization, electronic data is much harder to track and protect than physical files, if you are unaware of the security risks you are exposed to. While purchasing insurance to cover the damages that might occur if your sensitive information is leaked is one way to protect yourself, you ultimately want to prevent such a scenario from happening to begin with. Unfortunately, there are ill-intentioned people who are continually striving to access sensitive information to use it in dishonest ways. One of the most prominent sources of this risk comes from publicly shared wifi connections. If you are somebody who typically takes your tablet or computer on the go with you, and relies on wifi connections outside of your home or workplace, you need to be very diligent in protecting your information.

Frequent users of public wifi need to be aware that the connections they rely on at cafes, hotels, airports, and other such public places, have no security about them. That is to say, because they are intended to be accessed by many people, that accessibility comes at the expense of security. This has nothing to do with the integrity of the business offering the connection: this will apply to a perfectly trustworthy establishment whenever public wifi is being offered. The following are some areas you can target to reduce your exposure to this kind of vulnerability.

Choose a network wisely. When you are out and about, and eager just to check your email or to gain access to online content, the temptation is to simply get connected however you can. This usually means looking for the easiest connection to log onto—likely one that does not require a password. However, if the choice is between requesting a password from the establishment you are visiting, versus logging in to a password-free network from a neighbouring business, you should opt for the password protected one. That password means that less people are accessing the network, lowering your risk of exposure.

Make sure your software is up to date. Ensure that you don't fall behind with the software upgrades and updates that your operating system provides. These updates will help protect you from viruses, spyware, and malware, and are constantly evolving to identify and correct security breaches as soon as new ones come into being. Staying current is really key in this regard.

Mind your settings. There are a few settings you can modify on your computer to up its security when you're working on a publicly shared network. By turning off sharing, you ensure that your files are protected from unwanted visitors. Additionally, turning off your wireless signal when you don't actually need to be online is a good habit to get into, as it ensures that you aren't unnecessarily exposing yourself to network hazards when you're not making use of the internet connection.

Favour https over http. Websites that begin with https, instead of the more common http, use encryption. What this means is that the website you are using has taken measures to ensure that any information you submit through the site cannot be stolen by someone else, since it is encrypted. Most web browsers show an icon of a padlock when you are on such a site.


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