Wireless hotspots are popping up all over the places these days. Many of them, like the ones in McDonald’s and Panera Bread restaurants are free to access. Sometimes the access is free and other times you have to pay a fee. Many hotels, airports and stores provide WiFi hotspots as well.
Most public WiFi hotspots and wireless access points don’t require password and don’t use any encryption or security. This means your data is unprotected an easily available to a reasonable knowledgeable hacker.
Whether you are connecting to a wireless access point at a friend’s house, a business location, restaurant, hotel or library, you should always take precautions because you never know who else is on the network and what they are doing.
Here are a few ways you can protect your data and your computer while connecting to a public wireless network.
Keep your Computer Up-To-Date
Before connecting to a wireless hotspot, make sure your operating system, anti-virus software, and firewall have all of the latest updates.
Use a Firewall
A firewall is vital whether you are at home or on the go with your computer. You can download and install one for free. I like Comodo because it also includes free anti-virus software. A firewall will prevent others from connecting to your computer when they are connecting to a wireless hotspot. If you are using Windows you can use the built-in Windows Personal Firewall. Otherwise you should consider downloading and installing a Firewall program like Comodo.
Check Your Wireless Hotspot Access Point
Just because you are at a trusted location and use their access point or wireless hotspot doesn’t mean that a hacker located near that location can’t set up an access point and hope users accidentally connect to their access point instead of the one at the location you visited. Make sure you know the exact name of the hotspot you are supposed to be connected to and ask if you don’t know it.
When you are connected to a wireless hotspot, anyone can be snooping around the Internet for open computer. If they are able to access your computer they can read your emails, know what website you visit and see your password and confidential information. If you take a few precautions ahead of time you will be safe and secure your computer from spying eyes.