When traveling, it’s always temping to hop onto a hotel, coffee shop, or other free public WiFi to get online and possibly get some work done. You need to be careful, however, to make sure your information and security isn’t compromised along the way.
Don’t Connect to the Wrong Network: If you’re at a public place like a library or a coffee shop, make sure you’re connecting to the proper network. Anybody can setup a network named “Free Wifi” and then subject folks who connect it to man-in-the-middle type of attacks. Talk to the venue owner to make sure you verify the proper network to connect to.
Turn Off File/Printer Sharing and Mark as a Public Network: Before connecting to the network, turn off file sharing under the “Public” networks and make sure you mark the connection as “Public” when you connect. That will help lock down others on the network from getting onto your computer. You can find this option in the Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Change Advanced Sharing Settings. Under the Public heading, turn off the file sharing toggle if it’s not done already.
Browse HTTPS-only Sites: When you get connected to the public WiFi, you really should only browse secure HTTPS (SSL-enabled) websites. That will protect your data the most. The EFF has a browser extension that will force your browser to connect to HTTPS-versions of web sites whenever possible.
Use a VPN: If accessing resources back at the office, you need to be connecting with a secure VPN connection. This will encrypt and secure your connection back to the office, safeguarding your company’s data. Talk to your IT provider to discuss secure VPN options that will work best with your environment.
Enable two-factor authentication: You should have two-factor authentication enabled on any account you plan on accessing over the public WiFi. You can read all about two-factor authentication on our previous article.
Keep Anti-virus and Everything Up-to-Date: Make sure you have properly-managed anti-virus and patched Windows and keep things fully-up-to-date. There may be security updates for your systems that will help protect you on a public network.