How to Protect Personal Data While Accessing Wi-Fi Hotspots

Yes! We all have becomes slaves of technology. Our dependent behavior has made us reliant over our tech-devices – Laptops, Smartphones (smart gadgets associated), iPads, Tablets, Slates and what not.
Either you are on to a business trip or a holiday, the quantity of devices/gadgets in the bag pack is more than the clothes and accessories – right? Anyways, I am not here to criticize this trend as I: am currently writing this on my Laptop, just received low battery notification from my iPad and logged-in to ‘Twitter’ via my Smartphone.
See, we all are addicted to technology in one way or another. Indeed this habit of ours has made our security vulnerable and made our privacy subjective to diverse threats. From time to time, we allow you to get acquainted with the latest tips and tricks to enhance your privacy and security. Today we will like to edify the risks you may encounter while accessing Wi-Fi hotspots.

Wi-Fi Hotspot – an Attribute and a Risk

Availability of public Wi-Fi hotspots has enhanced with the passage of time. In fact this trend is perceived to acknowledge a rapid shoot in the near future. You may find Wi-Fi hotspot at every corner of this digital universe – airports, libraries, cafeterias, coffee shops, restaurants, transport spaces and in companies etc offer Wi-Fi connectivity to attract desired target market and to facilitate customer delight. However, there are crucial risks associated with this lavish feature enjoyed by the most of us.
Public Wifi hotspots
There are diverse risks associated with Wi-Fi hotspots. These risks cannot be confined to data interception, hack attacks or fake Wi-Fi hotspots. The risks associated with Wi-Fi hotspots can be as simple as someone peeping in your computer screen from behind or complicated enough to go beyond our understanding or estimation of them.
Hackers with their digital arsenal are not only able to access your confidential data but also steal your identify through Wi-Fi hotspots. The risks associated with Wi-Fi hotspots are not confined to the Netizens only but companies can also be victimized by planned hack attacks via Wi-Fi hotspots.
Through Wi-Fi hotspot, even a rookie hacker can access your sensitive data and passwords used for personal or business monetary transactions. This process is usually facilitated through packet sniffing. We will now provide you some tips and tricks through which you can save yourself from these malicious attacks while connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Physical Security Measures

The first and the most basic security tip to cope with Wi-Fi hotspot risks is physical security. One of the most common and effortless risk associated with Wi-Fi hotspot is called shoulder-surfing. It does not require a pro hacker to intercept your privacy. While accessing Wi-Fi hotspots in busy public places such as transportation spaces, coffee shops and airports etc you can easily be victimized by shoulder-surfing as anyone can peep into your screen. For this you need to take physical security measures such as putting a privacy screen on your laptop or Smartphone.

Never Connect to a Fake Wi-Fi Hotspot

Creating a fake Wi-Fi hotspot is like a piece of cake. Not all but some of you are so much complacent about their privacy and security that you don’t even hesitate to connect to an open Wi-Fi hotspot. There’s a significant possibility that the Wi-Fi hotspot you connect to is a fake connection created to decoy the victims.
Fake Wi-Fi hotspots often require needless information such as personal details, credit card details and other details that can be used by hackers to steal your identity, interfere in your transactions and even crack your passwords. Our tip: NEVER connect to the Wi-Fi hotspots that require unnecessary or personal information; because, the secure Wi-Fi hotspots never require such details.

Turn-off File Sharing

File sharing is a feature through which you can share selected files and details on the network. While you are connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot, you device is connected to a network. This means that anyone can access and even copy your personal files that you have shared. Most of us don’t even bother to recall the status of our file sharing. In addition, some of us might often forget to turn it off after last time we shared something with our peers.
While you are connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, you must turn file sharing off, unless you want to share you private moments spent with your girlfriend with rest of the world. If you connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot with your file sharing turned on, it won’t take a hacker to access your personal files but they will be accessible by every Tom, Dick and Harry.
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Data Encryption

Data encryption is one of the optimal measures you can adopt to make your confidential and personal data secure. Data encryption is a tool that promotes security whether online or offline. When you are connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot, your emails, private messages and other relevant data become vulnerable to unauthorized access. The data packets transferred from your device to another can be intercepted in the middle and accessed without your consent. The only way to ensure security with respect to this context is to use a virtual private network (VPN).
Data encryption
When you connect a VPN on your device, all your emails, private messages and other details sent from your device to another will be encrypted. A VPN through its different protocols successfully tunnels your data – makes it inaccessible till it reaches the recipient. However, if any hacker succeeds in intercepting the data in the middle and tries to access it – he will be slapped with encrypted data and your confidentiality will not be compromised.
A VPN not only encrypts all your traffic and encrypts your data through its tunneling protocols but it also furnishes other value added benefits. With a VPN, you can even hide your real IP which actually is your identity in this digital universe and connect to different servers offered by the service provider. So, how will you be hacked if you don’t even exist online? By the way, if you currently seek a VPN – don’t be confused by the resembling package plans offered by different service providers in the market. Let us assist you in this regard.

Ad-Hoc Networking Must be Disabled

This tip is recommended for those who access a Wi-Fi hotspot using their laptops. Before connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot, you must check if Ad-hoc networking on your machine is turned-on. No matter which machine (Windows or Mac operating system) you prefer – ad-hoc networking if turned-on can facilitate hackers to bypass the access point restrictions and access your confidential or personal data. Hence, you must always turn-off ad-hoc networking while accessing a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Enable Firewall Security

A disabled Firewall is the most basic blunder that makes your machine vulnerable. Firewall is a significant contributor in fight against the malicious and unauthorized attacks on your device. While your machine is connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot, an enabled Firewall evaluates and then legitimizes all incoming and outgoing requests. Furthermore, a Firewall is designed to protect your machine from unauthorized access; hence, it takes appropriate action when required. You just need to keep it updated and turned-on.
Firewall Security

Install an Updated Antivirus

An antivirus is one of the most efficient tools that protect your device against all malicious attacks. While being connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot, your device can be infected by Spyware, Malware, Trojans, Ransomware and Viruses etc. These malicious attacks can either be directed by the one who has established the network or any device connected on the network.
Antivirus
An antivirus ensures your safety in this regard. However, you must update your antivirus because hackers always come prepared. The older version of your antivirus might have cleaned that obnoxious intruder once. However, it might not be able to kill its updated version. Therefore, you must have an updated version of antivirus installed before connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot. There are many anti-viruses to choose from but we recommend Norton or ESET NOD32.

Conclusion

The rationale for compiling this article was to enhance awareness about the risks associated with Wi-Fi hotspots. We know that not all among you are completely unaware about these threats. However, most of the Netizens completely ignore these risks and eventually acknowledge critical consequences. Coping with the risks associated with Wi-Fi hotspots might not be easy for you; but, the set of tips and tricks presented in this article will surely ease the process. So, ENJOY!
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Arsalan Jabbar

Author

Arsalan Jabbar's Biography :


Arsalan Jabbar is a tech-research enthusiast who wants to explore technological obsolescence and its influence. With a little spice of wit in his writing style, Arsalan fanatically researches contemporary discoveries in the IT industry and critiques their significance in his own special way. Arsalan’s hypotheses are always reflected through in-depth scrutiny and valid notions.


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