Here are some tips on what to look out for when using public Wi-Fi, whether you use a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
Choose your network wisely:Tempted to connect to that elusive “Free Wi-Fi” hotspot? It’s worth doing your homework before selecting any network that’s open or not familiar to you. For example, if you’re in a coffee shop or public library, make sure to verify the name of the network with staff or on signage before connecting.
It’s pretty easy for someone who wants to intercept your data in a man-in-the-middle attack to set up a network called “Free Wi-Fi”, or any other variation that includes a nearby venue name, to make you think it’s a legitimate source.
If you are connecting via Windows, make sure to turn off file sharing and mark the Wi-Fi connection as a public network. You can find this option in the Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Change Advanced Sharing Settings. Under the Public heading, turn off the file sharing toggle. You may also want to turn on the Windows Firewall when connecting to a public network if it’s not already activated. These settings are also found in Control Panel > Windows Firewall.
On Mac, open up System Preferences and navigate to the Sharing icon. Then, untick the checkbox next to File Sharing. Here’s a full rundown on how to disable sharing and removing public home folder sharing options in OS X.
Use a VPN
Creating a virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to keep your browsing session under wraps. A VPN client encrypts traffic between your device and the VPN server, which means it’s much more difficult for a would-be intruder to sniff your data.