The Safe Way to Use Public Wifi
Galloway residents have access to a number of public wifi hot spots. Find out how to use those hot spots safely.
Anyone who spends a lot of time working on a computer can speak volumes on the value of a change of scenery. Spending all of your time in the same chair in the same room can lead to a strong sense of monotony that can drive productivity into the ground.
Fortunately, there are plenty of establishments in Galloway that offer wifi hotspots to their customers. Whether spending a few hours at Baristas Coffee House, or a few days at the luxurious Seaview resort, locals looking to break their routine have several solid options at their disposal.
While a change of scenery can do wonders for productivity, it’s important to take a few simple precautions before using a public wifi hotspot. Anyone with a wifi-enabled computer can access a hotspot as long as they are close enough to it.
Wifi hotspots make great targets for identity thieves because most people don’t adequately prepare their computers for public use. Once both parties are logged onto the same hotspot, a hacker could break into an ill-prepared computer in a matter of minutes.
Fortunately, there are a few simple tips that anyone can use to protect their computer, and their personal information when browsing the web in public.
Any computer used in public should have an active firewall on it. Firewall software monitors traffic coming to and from a computer, and blocks any traffic deemed suspicious.
Each version of Windows comes with a simple firewall built in, and Zone Alarm offers a more robust firewall free of charge.
A talented identity thief won’t be deterred by a firewall alone. Using a virtual private network to encrypt your data will keep unwanted eyes off of your personal information.
Many companies offer virtual private networking (VPN) services to their employees, and companies like WiTopia offer reasonably priced VPN plans for personal use.
Using a VPN is simple – just install the VPN software, and then use it to connect to the closest server. Once connected, all of your data will be sent securely through the VPN service, making it impossible for any nearby identity thieves to gain access to your personal information.
For those not willing to pony up the yearly fee attached to VPN services, there’s still hope. Almost any online service that sends or receives sensitive information offers a secure session option.
There are two common types of encryption: SSL, and TLS, and both are safe for public use.
Relying on those encryption methods requires a little legwork. Often, the option to enable SSL or TLS encryption is buried deep within the preferences section of the website or program in question.
If there isn’t an obvious option for enabling encryption, a quick Google search should yield information on how to enable encryption for just about any service.
Some services have encryption enabled for all data transfers. For example, popular cloud-based file storage service Dropbox encrypts every file transfer in an effort to protect their users’ data.
Popular Twitter client Tweetdeck also encrypts all of the information you send and receive. There are still many applications and websites that don’t offer encryption, so it’s important to research the encryption capabilities of an application or website before using it in a public place.
Thwarting identity thieves doesn’t require a doctorate in computer science. By taking these simple steps it’s possible to browse the internet through a public wifi hotspot without the fear of identity theft.