If you have a Netbook or Laptop that you would like to use on a Public Wi-Fi network, there are security precautions you need to take. Here we look at keeping your computer secure at public Wi-Fi networks.
Public Wi-Fi networks seem to be available in more locations than ever before. If you move between them a lot or are just getting started, following these security precautions can help keep your machine safe and secure. For this article we look at security steps in Windows 7, but most of these tips and suggestions will work in XP, Vista, and even other operating systems as well.
Use HTTPS Protocol
If you use regular HTTP protocol when connected to a public network, all of your text information can be easily found by an evil geek with a packet sniffer. You will want to use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) or SSL wherever you can. For example you can set your Gmail and other Google services to always use https when connecting. Open your Gmail account settings, under the General tab scroll down to Browser connection and select Always use https. Again, make sure you click to Save Settings at the bottom of the page.
Then when you go to any Google services linked with that account, you will see https:// before the URL in the Address Bar.It will work for any browser you’re using. Another thing to check on your browser to ensure you’re using https is to look for the lock icon in the lower right corner of your browser.
Use Correct Public Wi-Fi Connection
Rather than having to worry about changing your settings every time you log on to a Public Network. When you first connect to the Public network, Windows will ask you to select a location for the Network. For example here we want to connect to the local coffee shop Wi-Fi.Make sure you choose Public Network. This will automatically turn off File Sharing, Network Discovery, and Public Folder Sharing.
Switch on Your Firewall
Whether you use the Firewall built into Windows or a 3rd-party app like ZoneAlarm, make sure it’s enabled before signing on to a public network. Click on Start then Control Panel, make sure View by large icons is selected then click Windows Firewall. Then select Turn Windows Firewall on or off and make sure it’s turned on under Home or Work and Public network location settings.
Turn Off All Sharing
File and folder sharing is a great feature in Windows 7 at home, but when you’re on a public network, you don’t want others to see your data. To turn it off, click on the Network icon in the Taskbar and select Open Network and Sharing Center. Then click on the Change advanced sharing settings hyperlink. Now make sure to Turn off file and Printer Sharing and Turn off Public folder sharing make sure you save the changes when you’re done.