- While public Wi-Fi networks can be tempting because they are free, using such a network can expose you to several dangers.
- Some of the most common risks of using public Wi-Fi networks are traffic control and data theft. However, you can avoid all of this by following a few simple steps.
- Check out our dedicated Wi-Fi section for more Wi-Fi related guides, solutions, and recommendations.
- Visit our Internet and Network Center to learn more about how to keep your Internet connection in top shape.
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Public Wi-Fi networks are usually great, giving almost everyone free internet access.
However, public Wi-Fi also has a dark side. While the free wifi is great, it’s not always secure.
For example, you can find malicious users on the same public Wi-Fi network you are currently using.
These agents can be dangerous to your security and privacy as most of them look for your personal information.
But enough talk, you’re here to learn how to stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks and that’s exactly what we’re going to teach you.
Keep safe your PC on a public Wi-Fi Network
1.Use a VPN
- Buy a VPN plan (we recommend PIA)
- Download the VPN client on your device
- Install the VPN client
- Run it and login to your account
- Connect to any server you want
- Enjoy private and secure browsing on a public Wi-Fi network
A VPN works wonders when it comes to protecting your traffic from various agents eager to poke around and review.
A VPN like PIA not only redirects your traffic through its private servers (secure tunnel), but also encrypts it.
So even if someone intercepted your traffic from within the public Wi-Fi network, encryption would make it all look like gibberish.
2.Turn off sharing and network discovery
Enabling file sharing and network discovery is not unheard of, especially if you are on a reliable network.
However, keep in mind that this feature should only be used at home/work, or where you can trust all users on the network.
With this in mind, we recommend that you only use this feature in secure environments and when absolutely necessary.
It goes without saying that you should never use it on public Wi-Fi networks. Therefore, we will teach you how to disable it.
- Press the Win key on your keyboard
- Network type
- Select Network and Sharing Center
4. Click Change advanced sharing settings.
5. Find your current network profile
6. When using a public network, always select the guest or public profiles
7. In the Network Discovery section, select Disable Network Discovery.
8. In the File and Printer Sharing section, select Disable File and Printer Sharing
9 .Click Save changes.
It goes without saying that disabling network discovery will prevent other devices from seeing you on the current network.
3.Enable your firewall
Windows 10 has a built-in firewall, so if you’re not using a third-party solution, at least make sure your Windows is up and running.
The purpose of a firewall is to regulate inbound and outbound network traffic to protect your computer from attackers.
Here’s how to check if your Windows Firewall is running:
- Press the Win key on your keyboard
- Firewall type
- Choose Windows Defender Firewall from the list
4. Click the Turn Windows Firewall On or Off button
5. Make sure Enable Windows Firewall is selected in the Public and Private Network Settings sections.
6. Click OK to save the changes.
If you have a third-party firewall installed, Windows Firewall is automatically disabled and you do not need to enable it.
4.Always use HTTPS
Whenever you interact with your web browser, you are transmitting data that could be intercepted by malicious users on the same network.
If you don’t use a VPN to encrypt all your traffic, make sure you at least use an encrypted connection in your browser.
It is very easy to detect an encrypted connection as it is marked by HTTPS. HTTPS is an extension of HTTP and is used for security purposes.
Of course, this does not apply to applications or other services where you cannot see what is happening or whether your traffic is encrypted or not.
However, checking the protocol in your browser is easy and very effective to make sure it’s OK.
Remember, HTTPS – good, HTTP – bad.
5.Turn off your Wi-Fi if you’re not using it
Various applications and services maintain connections and make requests in the background, even when you are not actively using them.
Therefore, to avoid accidental data leaks, turning off your Wi-Fi when you are not actively using it proves to be a wise decision.
6.Disable automatic Wi-Fi connections
Here’s the thing: Over the years, your device has gotten smarter and smarter and all of a sudden you think it can decide everything for you.
An example of this would be connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks if the signal is strong enough.
Yes, that will save you precious 2 seconds, but you can also connect to a rogue access point created by a malicious access point.
These are called Hotspot Honeypots. Do you want to know why? Because they make the police work of unsuspecting victims seem like child’s play.
7.Protect your accounts
There are many reasons why a seasoned hacker or script kid would want your private browsing data.
However, one of the most common reasons is account theft. All, if possible; your social media, bank accounts, cloud storage, whatever.
It is wise to take a step back and consider that these accounts are not exactly fair game. No, they have passwords to protect them.
So what’s the first step to take to protect them? That’s right, choose a strong password, one that is automatically generated if possible.
Don’t remember all the mixed characters and symbols? You could use a password manager. But wait, there’s more!
In addition to using strong, unbreakable passwords for your accounts, you can also enable multi-factor authentication.
That way, if the attacker manages to get hold of your password, he’ll also need an additional confirmation to access your account.
We don’t recommend using your email address as 2FA for obvious reasons. If the attacker gets hold of your email address, he can basically access anything associated with you.
8.Update your security software
Whether it’s antivirus, firewall, anti-malware, anti-ransomware, or all of the above, you need to keep your security software in tip-top shape.
After all, they are responsible for the well-being of your device, especially when it is connected to a public Wi-Fi network.
Make sure everything runs smoothly by checking for updates from time to time.
Well, you should definitely do that a lot more often than once in a while, but you get the idea.
Ultimately, there are several ways to stay protected while using public Wi-Fi networks.
Without a doubt, using a VPN is the best way to go.
A VPN reroutes your connection and encrypts your traffic, keeping potential traffic monitoring enthusiasts at bay.
However, if you’re not ready to buy a VPN plan just yet, there are plenty of other ways to tackle the security of public Wi-Fi networks.