A wifi hotspot at a coffee bar or in the airport can be a blessing when you unexpectedly need some info from the internet or you need to send a file to a colleague. Or you have some time to kill with Facebook. Problem is: in most cases, you have no idea who is behind those hotspots, or what happens to the data you send over such a network. So we’ve come up with five tips to keep it safe.
Managing your financials, wiring money or even checking your balance are things you shouldn’t do on a public network. On many of these public hotspots, data traffic is not encrypted. Meaning that anyone with a dark side and basic skills could see which sites you are surfing to. The connection to your bank is secure, but even then hackers could intercept and try to analyse your data. So, better safe than sorry, and don’t do any banking business over public networks.
For much the same reason, avoid using credit cards as well. Because your credit card number is the last thing you’d want to fall into hacker-hands.
The rule is quite simple: if you wouldn’t say it out loud in public, don’t type it into your laptop or smartphone when you’re on a hotspot. Online forms, uploading your cv, even dating sites that ask for age, location and gender… avoid them. Al this information can be used to hijack your identity at a later stage. And also be wary of sites that don’t have security certificates. If the address starts with https:// you’re OK. If it’s just http:// you need to be careful.
At home or at the office, chances are that you’ll share files or printers with colleagues or housemates. But you shouldn’t do that when you’re on a public wifi network. Again, you’re making yourself vulnerable to people who’d like to get hold of your sensitive information.
Whenever possible, use web sites instead of apps if you want to access certain services. Apps potentially have more security risks than web sites. They often also have access to private stuff such as your contacts, your camera, your location. That’s a lot of information that can be stolen by cybercriminals.
If you’re a regular user of public hotspots, then you really should consider getting a subscription to a VPN service, a virtual private network. VPN’s make sure that everything you send via your laptop or smartphone is automatically encrypted.If that’s not an option and you’re a Proximus customers, you can use the FON hotspots across the globe. Just activate Smart Wi-Fi, enter your login and password and you’ll have a secure FON-connection in no time.