Are You Making These WiFi Security Blunders?

When you connect to a public Wi-Fi network from your favorite coffee shop or hotel, you're exposing your most sensitive data to danger. Even if the network is password protected, all those other people on the network can potentially hack you.

For example, look how easy it is to steal someone’s password on a public Wi-Fi network:

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But as a reader of American Wealth Watch, you have nothing to fear. Here’s how you can protect your data when you’re out on business or leisure…

The Most Important Wi-Fi Settings That Keep Your Data Safe

As a rule of thumb, make sure these settings are set up correctly whenever you’re on the same Wi-Fi network with people you don’t know. Whether it’s a free public Wi-Fi or a password protected one, it doesn’t matter.

1. Turn Off Sharing Of Files & Devices

Sharing settings can make your life a lot easier at home - by sharing files or devices such as printers with other computers on your network. But when you're out in the public, you must turn these off before a stranger can access them.

In Windows:

From your Control Panel, go to Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center, then click Change Advanced Sharing Settings. Here you click “turn off the file and printer sharing” and “turn off network discovery” for maximum safety.

In OS X:

From your System Preferences > Sharing tab, make sure all the boxes are unchecked. To turn off network discovery on OS X, you’ll need to go to your firewall's advanced settings and choose "stealth mode."

Note: when you turn off network discovery on either OS X or Windows, your computer won’t be seen by others on the same network. This makes you less likely to be targeted by cyber attacks.

2. Keep Your Firewall Turned On

Although a firewall is definitely NOT all you need to protect your computer from attacks, it’s a great starting point. Most operating systems now come with a basic firewall. Make sure it's always turned on.

In Windows:

In your Control Panel, go to System and Security > Windows Firewall to check if it's on.

In OS X:

Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall.

3. Always Use HTTPS And SSL If You Can

HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol used to load up webpages. When you visit a website using HTTPS, or use applications that access the internet with SSL enabled, your data will get encrypted and third parties (such as hackers) won't be able to access it.

Otherwise, websites with regular HTTP connections send lots of sensitive data in plain text format. That's way too easy for anyone to take a look into.

That’s why many of the popular websites such as Facebook, Gmail, Youtube, and more automatically use a HTTPS connection. But still, you have to make sure you're connecting through https when you're sharing sensitive information. If it's not there, or if it disappears, log out ASAP.

Some websites will default to a HTTP connection, but actually support the more secure HTTPS connection when you type it in manually. So always check to be sure.

4. Keep The Sensitive Stuff For Home

This tip is the simplest, but sometimes the hardest to take to heart. If you want to take care of your banking or send online payments, you should probably wait until you’re home.

There’s enough danger lurking online, and no reason to take more risks than you have to.

Banking, online shopping, sending and receiving payments can all wait until you’re accessing the Internet from the comfort of your home. It’s the surest way of keeping sensitive info from leaking out.

5. Not Using The Wi-Fi? Turn It Off.

Every time you're not actively using the internet, just turn the Wi-Fi off. This is the best way to guarantee no one will have access to your data while you're not paying attention.

It's simple to do too. Just locate and click the Wi-Fi icon on your desktop and turn it off or put it to airplane mode.

6. Use A Paid Virtual Private Network (VPN)

If you’re out on the road a lot, or just visit sites that don't offer SSL encryption, you may want to invest in a paid Virtual Private Network (VPN) service.

A VPN service gives you the security of a private network by allowing you to trail your activities through a secure private network online.

You can find plenty of free VPN services, but we recommend paid ones for safety reasons explained in the video below:

If you’re looking for trustworthy and high-quality VPN services, we've got some of the best ones listed here.

Just pick one and get started.

You’ll be much more safe with it than without it.

Doug Wilson