By: Kiran Deshpande, Co-Founder, Mojo Networks & President – TiE Pune
Many times in life we are forced to choose between the Devil and the Deep Sea – though mostly we already know which amongst the options are less hazardous, there are tips we need to bear in mind. For instance, during international trips, the user has to choose between mobile data or public Wi-Fi. Though the latter is picked i.e. public Wi-Fi, users need to keep the following in mind:
Turn off public Wi-Fi network when not in use– The primary thought to bear in mind is to be focused on the list of activities that requires you to use public Wi-Fi. Once these online tasks are ticked, ensure to switch off Wi-Fi. Remember, longer the duration Wi-Fi is on; you’re most likely to be a victim.
Letters to notice in the search bar ‘HTTPS’– Ensure HTTPS appears throughout in the search bar, this means that your data is encrypted and secure from prying eyes. Another ‘must-ensure’ is to enable SSL in the settings. If SSL is not checked, there is risk of data in your system being viewed by hackers.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tool– A VPN tool uses data scrambling technology which secures your online activity. It encrypts your data so that if an attacker spies on you, they still cannot access your data. If you’re travelling you can purchase a VPN service although some are available for free. If you are travelling for work purpose you can ask your company if they use a virtual private network. However in most cases people don’t use VPN, as they are not that easy to use, at such times revert to a cellular network and tether that to any other devices you’re trying to connect to the web. You may use up all your data but this is the best way to protect yourself without using a VPN.
Bring your own Wi-Fi– Consider ditching public Wi-Fi entirely by bringing along your own Wi-Fi. You could use a mobile hotspot or just tether to your smartphone and use your wireless carrier’s data.
Turn off file sharing – Simply put, how you switch off the lights when you exit a room, get into the habit of turning off the file sharing option when you switch onto a public Wi-Fi network. You can also choose to automate these settings so that your device recognizes your trusted networks and automatically enters a more secure setup by turning it off when you’re not connected to them.
Avoid net banking – There are times of course when online transactions are critical. In cases like these, one needs to be super attentive especially when logging into the bank URL when using public Wi-Fi. Take a few minutes out to type the bank website name. Alternatively, use a mobile banking app instead.
Set up two-factor authentication – You know those times when you get an email saying – ‘Your account was recently logged into from an unrecognized browser or device. Was this you?’ Though you cringe at the sight of these emails, this actually works in your advantage especially during times when you need to switch onto a public Wi-Fi. You might spend mere minutes browsing through your Facebook posts, but there may be someone snooping around for your personal information.
We cannot do away with public Wi-Fi completely but what we can do is be wise about how we use it by following certain protocols.