When you’re out and about, you may not think twice about using a public network to check social media or the latest news. Before you connect to Wi-Fi, follow these 6 steps to protect your data and identity from cyber thieves.
Before we jump into Wi-Fi best practices, let’s examine why you should exercise caution before signing on to public networks. A vulnerability known as KRACK affects the WPA2 security protocol used in the majority of Wi-Fi devices. KRACK allows cyber thieves to decrypt and view data sent between a wireless access point and a device.
Adding to this vulnerability, cyber thieves create honeypots at or near businesses. Honeypots are decoy wireless networks set up to steal passwords, credit card numbers, and confidential messages.
A Quick Fix: Expand Your Data Plan
Some sources say you should never connect to public Wi-Fi under any circumstances. The easiest way to avoid Wi-Fi is to contact your cell provider and expand your data plan. It’s an extra expense, but it could protect you against identity theft.
6 Wi-Fi Steps to Follow
Connect to a Trusted Network or Don’t Connect at All
You might see 10 or more options when you look at the Wi-Fi networks available to you. How do you find the right one?
Many businesses post the name and password for their guest Wi-Fi. Ask an employee if you can’t find this information. If all else fails, use your mobile data and skip the Wi-Fi.
Don’t Use Your Email Address or Phone Number to Log In
Some Wi-Fi networks require you to supply an email address or phone number to log in. Cyber thieves could hijack this information, so don’t give it away.
Don’t Access Your Personal Information or Files
You might want to pay the mortgage or check bank balances when you have some extra minutes on the go. Don’t do this. You shouldn’t access any account that includes your home address, social security number, or banking information.
Keep mobile file sharing to a minimum, as well. Turn off AirDrop, Dropbox, and Bluetooth if you aren’t connected to a secure network.
Use the HTTPS Protocol and Check the Entire Address
When you connect to a website, use HTTPS for a more secure connection. For example, if you want to do a quick Google search, use this address: https://www.google.com.
HTTPS is designed to encrypt the information sent to and from a website, but it doesn’t guarantee complete safety. Cyber thieves have created HTTPS connections for spoofed URLs such as banksfamerica.com and paypwil.com. These fake financial sites collect confidential information, so make sure you’re using the correct address.
Connect to a VPN
Add a layer of security by connecting to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) before you start browsing. When you connect to a VPN, you access a secure, private network that allows you to send and receive encrypted data through a public network.
Go here to find the highest rated mobile VPN services for 2018.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication requires you to provide an extra piece of information before you use your username and password to log in to an account. One kind of two-factor authentication sends an access code in a text message.
Unfortunately, cyber thieves know how to hijack this process by stealing phone numbers and swiping access codes. That’s why it’s preferable to use software or hardware for mobile two-factor authentication. Popular two-factor authentication apps include Microsoft Authenticator, Authy, and Google Authenticator.
Set up two-factor authentication for these accounts:
- Bank accounts (if available)
Most of these sites provide directions for setting up two-factor authentication.
These 6 Wi-Fi safety steps won’t guarantee complete security from inventive cyber thieves, but they’ll certainly help.
Article courtesy of Pekin Insurance