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Tips & Tricks for Safe Surfing on Free Public Wi-Fi

Stick to HTTPS and SSL Whenever Possible

How to Stay Safe on Free Public Wi-Fi

Regular connections over standard HTTP are vulnerable to a variety of intrusions and attacks because they exchange data in plain text, making it easy for an individual with the right skills to capture an account ID or password. Utilizing HTTPS (HTTP Secure) when visiting Web sites, or SSL when using apps and programs that access the Internet, encrypts data that passes between your computer and Web servers. Most sites will do this for you automatically, but it is a good idea to keep an eye on the address bar in your browser to make sure there is an "s" in the "https" at the beginning of a Web address. Likewise, check the security settings on your Web apps to confirm that SSL encryption is turned on.

Fire up that firewall

Tips for Safe Surfing on Free Public Wi-Fi

When it comes to protecting your computer in unfamiliar territory, your firewall is your best friend. These days, most operating systems come with some simple form of firewall built in. It’s easy to set up; in fact, yours may already be running. To check, simply go into your security settings and make sure the firewall is activated.

In Windows, you can adjust this setting under Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Firewall. On a Mac, you will find it under System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall.

Get in on a VPN

For an extra layer of security, consider using a virtual private network (VPN). VPN utilizes a tunneling protocol, which creates a connection that allows users to route their Internet activity through a secure third-party network, lending many of the benefits of a private network to a public connection.

Dare not to share

Save the network sharing for when you are at home swapping files between computers and devices. In most cases there is no reason to leave sharing turned on while in a non-secure public environment. Depending on your sharing settings, a snooper does not even need to be an ace hacker to access your private files. In Windows, sharing can be turned off by navigating Network and Internet > Network and Sharing in the Control Panel.

Double protection with two-factor authentication

two-factor authentication

When it comes to securing your social media and e-mail accounts, one simple step goes a long way to protecting privacy—two-factor authentication. Gmail, Facebook and Twitter all support two-factor authentication, which usually amounts to clicking an e-mail link or entering a security code along with your password when logging in. It’s a small inconvenience that helps to ensure you are the only person accessing into your account. Two-factor authentication puts an additional barrier between a potential intruder and your information, even if the hacker has sniffed out your password.

Carry your own Wi-Fi with you

While the above steps should keep you and your data relatively safe when connecting to free public Wi-Fi, the best way to achieve complete piece of mind is to carry your own wireless router with you. ZyXEL's Wireless Mini Travel Router connects to any LAN line, providing safe wireless access to all your devices.

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