At a certain point in our lives, we probably weighed if it was worth to log to a public network at the place we were having our holidays. By hearing so many news all over the internet on internet security breaches, identity theft and other means of cybercrime, there is an undoubted importance in acknowledging how can we protect ourselves at the time of logging to these public WiFi services if strictly needed.
Laptop or mobile device, the dangers are the same, if not worse for mobile devices due to their geotagging features that criminals can use against our interests. Therefore, let’s explore some strategies we can use to keep our personal data safe when using public WiFi networks.
Is it imperative to log?
That’s the first question we should ask ourselves. Unless we happen to be travelling due work, then there’s no need to keep on the internet addiction as if we were moving around our town with our own data connection for a smartphone.
The whole idea of browsing the internet in public hotspots should be when internet access is strictly needed, like checking flight information, reading important emails, or engaging in unimportant activities as reading the news, which can be done without much harm at the devices usually available at cafés or terminals, without putting ourselves at risk.
If you need to use internet access due to work related stuff while being abroad, then your company may consider the advantages of acquiring VPN services for the tasks to complete outside the office.
VPNs, which stands for Virtual Private Network, represent a safe method of exchanging data between parties, regardless of their location, and using secure login IDs which take time and expertise to get cracked.
In case you need to exchange a large amount of data between your company and your PC, or if you need to browse sensitive information, then better use one of these safe networking methods rather than exposing your corporation to a potential security breach.
Public WiFi Services and Internet shopping
By no means, you should make internet purchases which involve adding your credit card/banking account information in the process. In case you decide to engage in this kind of purchases, use public networking just for browsing between prices but not for completing the overall operation.
There are many fake networks masked under the alias of true public WiFi services, not to mention hackers may have left backdoors open to any banking transaction as a mean to intercept it and clone credentials – that’s one of the most common methods for stealing money worldwide.
Consider internet access speed
The most common scenario for free public networks is to be slow, overloaded with users trying to browse content at the same time as you are. If bandwidth isn’t as broad as it should be, then it translates into a poor browsing performance. Unless the spot where you happen to be advertised as a high-speed connection point, beware if you notice you can browse with complete ease while the place is crowded: you could be using a fake network set up by hackers.
On this behalf, you can check the most common internet speed rates for public networks worldwide in this infographic courtesy of Ooma.
Don’t exchange personal data
In case you decide to kill your spare time with social media while staying at acknowledged risky public networks like plazas, terminals or public libraries – not to mention cybercafés – refrain from sharing information on your personal address, ID numbers or talk about financial topics like your bank account numbers. Conversations can be intercepted or peaked by criminals who are just looking for open gates to create scenarios like cyber kidnaps, extortions or any other felony that can get the benefits of identity theft.
If you want to get in contact with your family or close friends, sometimes it’s best to do a phone call or use roaming data traffic instead of engaging in conversations while using public WiFi services: at least you know your smartphone connection isn’t that easy to breach.
A plausible public network
Whenever travelling, you should always check reviews for the hotel you are planning to stay. Depending on its amenities, most 3-star hotels provide internet access either at the suites or lobby, if not counting with a dedicated room for internet access.
Despite what you may think, these internet services are far more reliable than other public networks due to the constant maintenance they have to ensure connection quality – not to mention the need of hotel owners to process their own operations through the net. The connection might be slower than the one you can find in other places, but way safer. After all, your end goal is to communicate, not to stream HQ videos in public internet services.