7 tips for Wi-Fi hotspot security

Would you let scan your passport to get access to free Wi-Fi? And would you feel at ease with it? Public Wi-Fi hotspots are numerous and occasionally you might find them useful, especially when travelling. But have you ever really stopped to think about how safe they are to use? Public hotspots at airports, hotels or coffee shops don’t generally use encryption and are not protected, even if they require a user name and a password. And anyone can setup a free Wi-Fi hotspot, which makes it an easy opportunity for all sorts of scammers to steal personal information.

Here are seven tips for keeping your private bits private when surfing in unknown seas.

  1. Keep your Internet device and antivirus software updated, and firewall enabled at all times.
  2. Disable automatic connectivity to Wi-Fi networks to ensure you won’t accidentally connect to a hoax hotspot.
  3. If you have a choice, prefer hotspots that use some sort of encryption. Preferably WPA2, then WPA and lastly WEP.
  4. When connecting with laptop, disable file sharing. This will make your files less visible to others using the same network.
  5. If possible use a VPN that encrypts the data between your laptop and a VPN server.
  6. Avoid connecting to sites that require credit card information or contain data that is otherwise sensitive, like your online bank account. Additionally when connecting to any site, make sure you only access secure pages that begin with https://.
  7. Prefer not to save passwords when asked if you want to store it for future use.

So there you go, with these tips you’re well on way to secure surfing. Of course, we all know that sometimes a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do to get his Internet access. So how about that passport scanning thing? Would you do it? It is reality, you know, at the Beijing International Airport.

-Hanne @Uros