Being able to send and receive email or browse the web in airports, trains, and other public places is a wonderful convenience. However, public WiFi has its dangers so it is important to take certain steps to use it safely.
You don’t want to be messing with configurations and settings while on the road so there are some tasks to do before you leave your home or office. Since it is easy to forget something important, I suggest making a checklist and following before you hit the road. Before you even leave the house:
- Turn off file/print sharing
- Turn on and configure the firewall feature
- Install and configure Anti-Virus
- Turn off any auto connect features
These basic settings really should be a part of any properly configured computer whether it’s used at the office, at home, at a client’s site, or at the local coffee shop. On the road:
- Be mindful of what network you are connecting to – hackers can easily attempt to spoof a legitimate network.
- Be diligent of warnings and messages – most browsers these days will try to warn you if you are connecting to a illegitimate site, mind these warnings.
- Limit the amount of sensitive transactions, if possible – otherwise ensure that your transactions are utilizing some form of protection HTTPS (encrypts the message) or VPN (virtual private network).
- Be attentive to your surroundings – do not let your guard down to a non-technical hack, such as shoulder surfing. When entering sensitive data be alert to who is sitting beside you, or behind your shoulder – watching for passwords or other sensitive information.
Located in Pennsylvania, Jason Rhykerd, CISSP, is a security professional with over 10 years of experience in assessing, analyzing, and auditing IT security risk. Jason has worked in multiple industries including healthcare, manufacturing, nuclear power generation, and government.