Using public WiFi hotspots is a great way to avoid an expensive data plan when travelling abroad. Some of the more tourist-prone cities, like Barcelona, offer free WiFi to all citizens in high-traffic areas. This service is awfully convenient for travellers and locals alike, but what are the risks of a public network and how can you avoid them?
These are executed by taking advantage of a relatively open line of communication to intercept data. The attacker inserts themselves in between two parties who believe they are communicating on a private network. This leaves users open to eavesdropping (a.k.a. snooping). An unencrypted WiFi network is an easy point of access for these attackers.
Steps To Cyber-Attack Prevention
1. Turn off file sharing – this is a feature that allows you to share media and files with others- but it can also be vulnerable on open networks. To change these settings:
- Search for “Control Panel”
- Select “Network and Sharing Center” or “Network and Internet”
- Click on “Change Advanced Sharing Settings”
- Toggle off the the file sharing option under “Public”.
2. Flag the network as public rather than private – by default, access to Mac user data is limited, but if you’re setup as a guest account on your device you may still be at risk when using a public network. To temporarily disable the guest account:
- Click on the Apple logo in the top left hand corner of the screen
- Select “System Preferences” and click “Users and Groups”
- Click on the lock in the bottom left hand corner – this will allow you to make changes.
- Click on the Guest account in the left column and deselect “Allow Guests to Log in to This Computer”
- Click the lock again to prevent others from switching this setting
After you’ve changed a few security settings, here are a couple of best practices you can follow to protect yourself at home or abroad.
- Remember to always check for “https” in the URL bar of a website (the “s” means the network is encrypted–it’s secure).
- Strengthen your internet security settings for your browser. Changing some settings can help protect your PC from malicious web content.
As always, a multi-layered security plan is your best bet. Do your homework and make sure your computer’s settings are secure before you leave. Throw your FixMeStick in your bag too and run a scan at night while you rest up for your next adventure. Your security isn’t bound by your geography and neither is your FixMeStick!