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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

7 Tips To Keep You Safe & Secure When Using Public Wi-Fi During Summer Vacation Season

The height of summer is here and this a reminder for all of you to protect your devices, data, and privacy while you're taking your summer trips. Now more than ever, you need to be extra careful about cyber security threats while away from home, especially when using public Wi-Fi. Cyber criminals recognize our desire to stay connected to the Internet and social media accounts and have created ways to get access to your personal data. Want to keep safe when you're travelling? Here are a few tips to help you keep your devices and sensitive data secure when you travel anywhere outside your trusted home network.

Cyber criminals know that people want to be able to save data on their cellular plan and look for free Wi-Fi networks to connect to. Hackers will hang out in public spots and set up open networks with Wi-Fi network names that look legitimate. The Hacker only needs only be within range of the Wi-Fi network to get access to your data. Sometimes they will go as far as setting up a fake landing or sign in page giving you a link to “register,”. This process can install a virus or malware on your devices which allows thieves to access any data stored on your device, including, social media, bank account and other financial information. Additionally, public wi-fi is just one big wireless network, which means anyone who has generally network skills can peer across the wifi network to view items stored on your smart device.

Use the following tips to keep you and your devices cyber secure when travelling:

1. Verify the name of the public Wi-Fi from the establishment before you connect. Hackers will create fake wi-fi access points that look legit, so you should always verify the correct name before you connect. Most establishments will have you log into their wi-fi network rather than just having an open network.

2. Avoid any online shopping or other financial activity. You never know who is snooping on public wi-fi networks so it's best that you don't access your banking or financial web sites when you using free public wi-fi.

3. When you can, use your cellular data to surf the web. The best and safest way to surf the web when you're travelling is from your own cellular network. Your smartphone providers network is safe, because it provides a two way connection between your device and your mobile network, there are no other devices involved.

4. Consider purchasing a portable router or a mobile hotspot when travelling. Not all devices have a cellular network card built in. That's where a mobile hot spot or portable router come in. Both use your cell providers network keeping your surfing secure and both allow you to setup your own personal network, allowing you to invite other family members to surf the web without anyone snooping.

5. Consider connecting through a VPN, even if you are using a secure WiFi connection. Many public access points aren’t using encryption technology. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) will help protect your information even if it is intercepted. One of the best is included in the web browser Opera. Use this browser, turn on the VPN and you're safe from hackers.

6. Disable File Sharing. If you use your Windows or Macintosh laptop in an office environment, there is a chance you have enabled file sharing to allow your co-workers to share your files. Make sure this feature is off before you connect to any public wifi.

7. Don't leave your laptop, tablet, or smartphone unattended in public. Even if you’re working on a secure Wi-Fi network, that won’t stop someone from taking your property or sneaking a peek at your device.

These guidelines will require a few extra steps when getting online when you're travelling, but they will help protect you from falling victim to identity theft and fraud. What steps do you take to keep you and your family safe when you're travelling? Drop me a line and let me know!

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