These days you can find a Wi-Fi connection just about everywhere. The library, restaurants, Starbucks, airports, hotels, offices, etc. The vast majority of these connections are free to use and if not it’s typically a nominal fee for your web surfing. But there’s a very big potential catch – your privacy.
You wouldn’t leave your wallet sitting on your desk unattended would you? Do you leave your smart phone just laying around? Do you have your web passwords on a post it stuck to your laptop screen? I sincerely hope the answer to these questions is “no”. Unfortunately, surfing on a Wi-Fi connection can be just as bad.
What can you do to make your Wi-Fi surfing more secure??
When you can you should be using SSL.
SSL, also known as secure socket layer, encrypts your data as it flows to and from your computer. Ever notice that little lock when you’re on your bank’s website or checking out online? That’s SSL. Many people don’t know it but many of the sites you use on a daily basis offer a SSL verion… it’s just a matter of turning it on.
- Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/ – Open up your ACCOUNT SETTINGS (there’s a little down arrow in the upper right hand corner that will allow you to see this) and then click on the SECURITY tab (it’s got a little badge next to it). One of your options will be for SECURE BROWSING. Make sure the check box next to “Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) when possible” is checked.
- Gmail – http://mail.google.com/ – Click on the gear image in the upper right hand corner. Choose MAIL SETTINGS and the choose ALWAYS USE HTTPS.
- Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/ – open your SETTINGS and on the ACCOUNT tab make sure you’ve got the check box for “Always use HTTPS” checked.
That’s just three sites but these days there’s often an option where you can make your browsing experience more secure. Consider looking into it if you’re surfing on a Wi-Fi connection.
Other stuff you can do…
- Only turn Wi-Fi on when you need it. If your computer is capable of picking up a wi-fi connection, then you’ve got the ability to turn it off. If you only turn it on when you’re looking of for a connection, then you don’t have run the risks of connecting to an unsecured network. There are far too many brands and models of computers for us to list instructions here. If you can’t figure out how to turn it off let us know and we’ll be happy to look into it for you.
- Turn off sharing options. Same reasoning as above. It’s great when you want to use your wireless printer at home, but it sucks when someone’s trying to snag your data. If you’re not using it, turn off sharing.
Regardless of what site you’re surfing on it’s a good idea to LOG OUT when you’re done using site. If your browser gives you the option to remember your password you should decline. Also, change your password often and don’t make it something easy for someone to guess (Please don’t make it your kids name or your birthday).