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How to keep yourself safe while using public Wi-Fi?

Mohammad Farooq Written by Mohammad Farooq · 1 min read>

Security is of paramount importance while browsing online as there may have been instances where you are told that public Wi-Fi is not safe to use. Public Wi-Fi networks in all probability do not have any security or encryption enabled, even accessing secure HTTP’s websites like Gmail or your bank account may not be safe. This can leave you vulnerable to snooping, the network being accessed could be compromised or the worst case the Wi-Fi hotspot itself maybe malicious.

HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS everywhere, developed by the Electronic Foundation Frontier, is a popular extension available for the Firefox, Chrome & Opera browsers to encrypt your communications with many major websites. It is important to know this extension enables encryption only on websites that support the HTTPS protocol. Here is an excerpt from one of its FAQ:

“HTTPS Everywhere depends entirely on the security features of the individual web sites that you use; it activates those security features, but it can’t create them if they don’t already exist. If you use a site not supported by HTTPS Everywhere or a site that provides some information in an insecure way, HTTPS Everywhere can’t provide additional protection for your use of that site.”

Use a VPN

The best option is to use a VPN while browsing on public Wi-Fi hotspots. There are paid options out there like Tunnelbear, CyberGhost etc. which will not only encrypt your sensitive information but will keep you safe online from prying eyes. Both Tunnelbear and Cyberghost VPN’s offer a free component for users to avail which can be very useful when accessing public Wi-Fi networks especially.

Use an Internet Security Suite

Ensure while browsing over in-secure networks that you have an up to date anti-malware and antivirus solution at hand. There could be a possibility you are browsing an in-secure network that could be infected by viruses and malware. In such times, having an internet security solution like Avast or Avg can keep you protected.

Avoid using specific types of website

Avoid logging into sensitive websites like your bank, social media or an email account as much as you can over an open Wi-Fi network. You should only access the mentioned websites if you are using a VPN.

Use Two Factor Authentication

All popular emails and social media websites offer the ability to enable two factor authentication (2FA). It allows you to need two pieces of information to login into your account. One is something known to you and the latter is within your possession. The first is your password and the second your mobile phone on which you will receive a pin code. In case of your password being compromised on public Wi-Fi, the person won’t be able to login thanks to 2FA being enabled.

While connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots via Windows, select the public network option and keep the firewall turned on.
Ideally, a paid VPN solution is highly recommended since it will grant access across all your devices including tablets and smartphones. Moreover, all blocked websites on any network will be accessible too, you can take it as a complementary gift. 😉

Image Credits: Likehacker



Written by Mohammad Farooq
Farooq is currently writing for Dawn and TechJuice. He is also volunteering for Digital Rights Pakistan. Profile