Public WiFi Safety Tips | How To Avoid Viruses

Posted on January 07, 2016.

Many businesses offer public WiFi access as a convenience to their customers and as an easy way for employees to connect to the Internet. Without proper public WiFi security, however, these access points can prove to be quite dangerous.

Using only a few pieces of freely-available software, an experienced thief can easily monitor the data that is sent to or from a connected computer, if the connection is not secured, potentially stealing sensitive information such as login credentials, bank account information or credit card numbers in what is known as a man-in-the-middle attack. They may also gain access to other computers on the network, stealing files from shared directories or otherwise compromising the computer. Even when the network is secured using WEP or WPA encryption, attacks may still be possible through security holes in the encryption algorithms.

If you are considering installing a public access point at your home or business, there are several things that you can do to improve your public WiFi security:

  • Change the default username and password that are used to access the router to something unique. The default passwords for most routers are easily available online.
  • If your router has a guest or public account, use that to provide public WiFi, while using a private network for personal use.
  • Choose a unique SSID.
  • Enable WPA2 encryption if present, as it is the strongest protection. Otherwise, choose WPA or WEP.
  • Choose a strong password to secure the connection.
  • Enable the router's firewall, if present, to protect your local network.
  • Install a hardware firewall on your network or a software firewall on each of your computers to keep them protected.

One of the services that Computer Solutions of Freehold can provide is a safety feature known as a VPN or Virtual Private Network.  A VPN can encrypt any information that is on your computer or mobile device when it is connected to any type of public WiFi.  With this ability, it is almost impossible for a hacker to access your data while you have an unsafe WiFi connection.

When using a public WiFi access point, avoid logging into important accounts, and do not enter your credit card or banking information. Make sure that your operating system is up to date, as well as your anti-virus software, and install a firewall to prevent outside access to your computer.