The first thing anyone does upon reaching a new destination is hunt for a free wireless connection to connect to, or seek out someone who is able to provide the password. We do this at our friend’s house, when we are at our relatives but most of all, we do it when we are out in public. Airports, cafes and hotels, all of which are hotspots for hackers and snoopers. Here’s how to keep yourself safe.
- Secure your connection
Before you connect to the first available network, check to make sure that it is legitimate. You can do that by clarifying the name of the network with the host and this is done to dissuade from falling into ‘honeypots’. Generally set up by data thieves or hijackers who hack into your internet session and steals your cookies which, allows them to pass off as you on various websites.
- Connect through a VPN
Unless you are only planning to read the news and not intending to key in any sensitive information whilst connected to a public wifi, use a VPN. Virtual Private Networks encrypt your data much like putting a two-way mirror up between you and the world. You being behind the clear side. Even if a hacker manages to get into your open session, the data they steal would be encrypted and scrambled.
- Use encrypted websites
Regardless whether you are able to ascertain your wifi security, always connect through encrypted websites especially when sending sensitive data. Login information and other such data. To check whether the website is encrypted, look at the URL bar of the browser and there should be ‘https’ rather than just ‘http’.
However, be wary that there are website which look extremely similar to verified sites such as ‘bankfamerica.com’ that has managed to obtain the certificate. Therefore, always make sure the URL in your web browser is spelt accurately.
- Be cautious
Don’t ever think that it will not happen to you, as what a journalist onboard a plane thought when his emails were hacked and the details repeated to him verbally after the flight. The hacker told the journalist, Steven Petrow, that he has hacked into the emails of everyone onboard but wanted relay this information to him as he gleaned that he is a journalist. His parting words being, “That’s why this story is so important to everyone. It’s about everyone’s privacy.”
- Turn no two-way authentication
Wherever possible, take the extra precaution of having a two-way authentication. This way, even if some hacker managed to obtain your login credentials, they would not be able to log on without access to the secondary code usually sent to your phone number or email.
Bear in mind that no matter how well you keep yourself invulnerable, do not assume for one moment that if someone really wanted to steal your data that they are on a fool’s errand, for that is the day you stop being careful. Always keep your security measures updated and constant vigilance.