Working Safely in Wireless Hot Spots

Many places provide wireless (Wi-Fi) Internet connection for their customers, but they are not always safe. It is up to you to make sure your information stays safe while surfing the web in one of these zones.

Below are 8 tips to help you work more securely in free wireless hot spots.

  1. Disable Your Wi-Fi Adapter - when you are not at home or the office, it is a good idea to completely shut off your computer's wireless capability when you don't need it. Doing this can protect you from malicious hot spots.  Your computers user manual or a google search of your computer should point you in the right direction of this button or setting. 

  2. Choose More Secure Connections - while it is not always your choice which internet connection you use, when you do have a choice choose the one with security features enabled such as a network security key or certificate.

  3. Make Sure Your Firewall Is Activated - firewalls help protect your computer by preventing others from gaining access to your information without permission.  It acts as a barrier that checks all incoming information and then allows safe information to come through while blocking the unsafe.  All Windows operating systems come with a firewall that can be turned on and off. Antivirus software usually has firewall protection as well rendering your Windows firewall unnecessary. It is not recommended that you have two firewalls active at the same time.

  4. Monitor Your Access Points - chances are there are multiple wireless networks anywhere you are trying to connect to the Internet. These are called access points because they linked to a wired system that gives you access to the Internet. Configuring your PC to let you approve access points before you connect can keep your information safe.

  5. Make Your Folders Private - when the folders on your PC are private, it is more difficult for hackers to access your files. Your version of Windows will have a different set of instructions for doing this, and all steps will need to be repeated for each file you want to make private.

  6. Disable File And Printer Sharing - file and printer sharing can leave your information at risk of being stolen by others who are working on the same network as you. It can be turned off and on fairly easily, and should only be on when you are at home, work, or another trusted Internet access site.

  7. Encrypt Your Files - you can protect your files through encryption, which requires a password to access or modify them. It can be a tedious process so it is recommended that you only do this for sensitive files you intend to access in public Internet locations.

  8. Consider Removing Sensitive Data From Your PC Altogether - extremely sensitive information can be stored on a network server to provide the ultimate protection. Then you are able to access the information, without leaving it open to malicious hacker attacks.

While it is important for most people to have Internet access for their work or personal lives, it is just as important to keep your information protected when using Internet hot spots.