Wi-Fi connections can be very convenient to send and receive information via the Internet with a smartphone or laptop compute, but there are high risks for privacy and security that you may not be aware of.
While you surf or send data to printers, someone with the right equipment and software could steal your private personal information, files, inject malware, read your emails and social network traffic and send you lots of spam.
Your Wi Fi internet system that broadcasts around your house is potentially liable to be used by a neighbour or someone prowling around looking for unsecured connections. Someone may even be using your network for downloading child pornographer.
Wi-Fi connections at hotspots in shopping centres and cafes may be great places to download and share music and video files, but there connection area also very risky and invite malware injection of theft of personal information unless you take the right precautions to protect your smartphone or laptop.
Turn on the security built-into your home router - Virtually all Wi-Fi routers acquired in the last 6 years will have an in-built security system called Wi-Fi Protected Access type two, or WPA2, which secures personal data by powerfully encrypting the information broadcast. But you have to switch the WPA2 on to advantage of it. Read your router manual for directions on how to install and run this security system. Newer equipment normally makes setting up this system a breeze, but if you’re having problems you simply need to push the button marked 'Wi-Fi Protected Setup', or similar. Make certain you have selected the WPA2, and not WPA option , and avoid the older WEP, which is now completely out of date.
Select strong network password and keep it safe and secure - WPA2 permits you to specify who can connect to your home network system via a secure password. Design a secure password that is more than 7 characters long and includes a mixture of symbols, numbers and one or more uppercase letters to make it virtually impossible for anyone to guess, and hard to crack. Don't include any of your personal details such as your name, address, date or birth or dictionary words because they make it much easier to crack. If necessary, write your complicated password down after encoding it and store it in a secure place.
Use Web Sites that Encrypt your Communication - When using any Wi-Fi network, including you home network or a hotspot in a cafe, hotel, or any other public place, make sure that Web sites that you use that contain sensitive information, encrypt the data that they send to as traffic. You can see that encryption is being used by looking for the 'HTTPS' in the address bar as occurs with many bank sites or when logging into a Web-based e-mail service. Recently some Web services, such as Gmail, Hotmail and Facebook allow you to encrypt the interface using HTTPS to protect all your private communications from potential listeners nearby or on the network.
Don’t connect automatically to random Wi-Fi hotspots when moving about - It is very tempting to connect to various open Wi-Fi networks while you are moving about in cafes, shopping centres and various other places. But many of these hotspots are not safe to use and have well developed hacking systems and ease-dropping systems in place to snoop on you.. Do some research to confirm that the network is safe before connecting to it and tun off the automatic connection tools. Try to stick with the networks encrypted using WPA2.
Use VPN technology to encrypt your activity - If you move around and have to transmit private data using public Wi-Fi networks,you should use VPN virtual private network software, which generates an encrypted channel for your data interface on the Internet. Many major companies make it compulsory for their employees to use VPN technology while travelling to secure vital corporate information. If your company does not have a VPN system, there are now a number systems you can install and use.
Disable your Wi-Fi adapter - When you are not working or at home switch off your computer's Wi-Fi system when you are not using it. This prevents your computer from connecting to a compromised hot spot without your knowledge Many modern laptops have a button that you can use to switch off your Wi-Fi adapter. If this is absent you can use your operating system to switch off your Wi-Fi adapter.
Make sure your firewall is activated - A good quality firewall is designed to block unauthorized parties from accessing and potentially compromising your computer through a network or the Internet. It acts as a barrier that invokes checks on all information transfers to ensure it is safe and authorized. All Windows operating systems come with an in-house firewall and there are many enhanced versions available for purchase. Make sure your firewall is turned on.
Monitor your access points - When you look you may see that there are various wireless networks available that you could potentially connect with. It is important that you ensure you connect to the right one which you know is safe. You should set up your computer to always ask you to approve an access point to a network before making the connection.
Disable printer and file sharing - File and printer sharing is a very useful feature that enables other computers, printers and other devices on a network system to share resources with your computer when you are at work or at home. However when you are travelling and connection your computer to a hot spot you should disable printer and file sharing systems as these are vulnerable to attack by hackers who ca use it to get unauthorised access.
Make all your sensitive folders private - Whenever various folders on your mobile PC contain sensitive and private information, make them private folders that require password access.
Encrypt your files for extra protection - You can provide extra protection for your files by encrypting them, which means that a password is required to open or edit them. You should password-protect all of the files you intend to use when travelling via hotspots in a public place.
Remove sensitive data from your portable computer or device that connects to remote networks - If you're working with valuable, personal and sensitive data that is not needed when travelling, you should consider removing all the files from the portable computer you use when travelling. Instead, save the information on a password-protected remote site, or use a secure Cloud system such as Windows Live SkyDrive or iCloud and access it only when necessary. This provides an extra safeguard.