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On-the-Go Wifi Security for Dummies

Feb 07, 2013

Finally you sit down to enjoy your cafe latte and flip open the lid of your laptop. You pa-rouse facebook, mail and heck decide to look online at the latest deals going on and buy. It’s an all  too familiar behaviour, which makes us vulnerable to hacks.  Your notebook, tablet or smartphone’s default settings, latest security tools and firewalls may not fully protect you from lurking eyes. Whether you are in the hotel lobby or another hotspot, you should know the basics of on-the-go security.

Although, these tips may be a pain in the you no what, it’s worth educating yourself, than becoming a victim of stolen credit card information, identity theft,  phone numbers, files. You get my point.

  1. Disable Auto-Wifi Connections – This is easiest way to protect yourself and avoid connecting to alias networks designed to hack you. Go to your Wifi settings on your device and disable auto connect. If there is no option, then you are safe. Fortunately, the latest models are disabled by default.
  2. Turn off Sharing – Probably the most overlooked feature, when using public networks. Just imagine, once you logged on with sharing features enabled, you’ve invited everyone into your PC or Mac for a good time. For Mac,  go to System Preferences, then Sharing, and make sure none of the options are checked. For PC, go to Control Panel, then Network & Sharing, then Advance Sharing Settings. At this point, turn off all sharing settings under guest and public networks.
  3. Beware of Hoptspot Alias – Sounds silly, but believe me, if I wanted to trick you into joining my tainted network at McDonald’s, I would call it “Free McDonald’s Network”. Double check with staff the name of the network before connecting. They may look at you sideways, but it’s your credit card and information at risk.
  4. Enable Firewall – Some devices have automatic firewalls enabled, but don’t assume. On PC, go to Control Panel, then System & Security. Go to Windows Firewall to enable. On Mac, select System Preferences, to Security & Privacy. Navigate to the Firewall tab and click Turn On Firewall. Click the padlock icon in the lower left, if it’s gray, enter your password, then follow these steps again.
  5. Two Factor Authentication –  Becoming more popular is using two pieces of  ID to log into an account. Usually it consists of a password and a code sent to your cellphone. Codes: Gmail offers this by connecting your mobile device. You can enable this through the Account Settings. Once you attempt to log on, you will be asked a password and receive an additional security code by text or call. Other social medias are jumping on board such as Twitter. Passwords: I feel like Mom reminding you to hang up your coat, but seriously, make sure you use a strong password! Preferably use bad grammer or nonsense with a combination of numbers and capitals. For example avoid “soccergirl97”. Instead use something like, “9wAs7blUesoccer”.
  6. No Brainer VPN – Ahhh, the ultimate private connection. If you are an avid hotspot traveler, or just don’t want the headache of all these setting adjustments, you may consider subscribing to a VPN, a.k.a., Virtual Private Network. Costs are under 10 bucks per month and offers unlimited bandwidth and multiple exit points to select the country your network traffic is routed through.

Society is quickly increasing the usage of Mobile devices to browse, pay bills and shop. It’s extremely important to halt hackers from invading our privacy. All it takes is an open opportunity and cyberattacks go to town, in any town.


Rachel Gilliland

Toronto Professional Services


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