i-SAFE: Public WiFi Security & Safety Tips

wifiMany of us use public WiFi because it is free.

What’s the difference between a public WiFi network and your home network? (Laptops, portable phones and tablets are all susceptible to the wireless security risks. )

Your home and office LAN are (or should be) encrypted with a password and you can use your laptop, tablet or smartphone without anyone nearby seeing what you are doing and or using your home system as well. Your home system might be in range for a neighbour but although they can see you they also can see it is private. Even if they try to connect they have to use a password. You may see other networks but these are also (usually) password protected.

A public WiFi network is one where you do not need to use a password to log on to gain access. This is a serious problem because it allows other people to see what you are doing because it is unencrypted. Other people can see what unencrypted web pages you’re visiting, what you’re typing into unencrypted web forms. They can also see which encrypted websites you’re connected to (like your bank) but in these they can’t see what you are doing.

Are there any public networks that are SAFE?

Well, not really. If you look at your electronic device to see what WiFi is available you can see all of those in range (some are password protected) but if you can see them they can see you and unless you have high level security private software installed they all can see you whether you log in to them or not. That's fair isn't it? What you don'y know is that they no your device address and if their computer looks that up they know who you are and where you are.  Apart from being monitored anyway you need to protect yourself and fortunately more organisations are providing secure wireless access for their customers. These are identified by them to giving you an access code that they change daily or give you a use once password.

Some other tips

  • You probably are being watched by many people who wish to know where you are.
  • Not all  links are safe. Some criminals set up a bogus WiFi system near say a coffee shop where they try to capture valuable, personal information from unsuspecting users. Question everything – and don’t connect to an unknown or unrecognised wireless access point.
  • Use a VPN (virtual private network): This will prevent anyone intercepting your data.  Make enquiries from your ISP (internet service provider)
  • Avoid using websites that want to store your credit card information, your identity, passwords, and or personal information – such as social networking sites, online banking services (other than government registered Banks)
  • Consider using your portable phone (Cell-phone, mobile phone)
  • If you need to access any websites that store or require the input of any sensitive information – including social networking, shopping on the internet and online banking sites – it may be safer accessing them via your cell phone network, instead of the public WiFi connection.
  • Make sure all of your devices are protected by a security system that you keep up to date.