How to stay secure on public Wi-Fi.

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As more and more people are getting online with mobile devices, most of them cannot afford either fixed line connections at home, or they can afford very limited mobile data packages, hence  free Wi-Fi is becoming more and more popular as an alternative.

Availability of free internet has led to a momentous growth of business ranging from SMEs to top notch companies globally.

Globally, according to the iPass Wi-Fi Growth Map, the number of Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to grow to 340m by 2018, up from fewer than 50m today with retailers, hotels, and cafés driving the growth.

In Kenya, Internet access, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) currently stands at 74.2% percent which is an equivalent of approximately over 25 million people who can easily connect to the world! With this numbers in mind, Wi-Fi has become a factor to depend on by entrepreneurs to attract customers and to make their services easily available wherever and whenever!

Nevertheless free Wi-Fi networks are also a major source of security vulnerabilities, and there are many ways malicious actors can exploit them to steal critical information from negligent users or harm them in some other way.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid public Wi-Fi altogether. Here are a few tips to help keep you avoid the security pitfalls of public Wi-Fi while take full advantage of free internet.

Turn Off Sharing

When connecting to the Internet at a public place, you’re unlikely to want to share anything. You can turn off sharing from the system preferences or Control Panel, depending on your OS, or let Windows turn it off for you by choosing the “Public” option the first time you connect to a new, unsecured network.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) connection is a must when connecting to your business through an unsecured connection, like a Wi-Fi hotspot. Even if a hacker manages to position himself in the middle of your connection, the data here will be strongly encrypted. Since most hackers are after an easy target, they’ll likely discard stolen information rather than put it through a lengthy decryption process.

Keep Wi-Fi off When You Don’t Need It

Even if you haven’t actively connected to a network, the Wi-Fi hardware in your computer is still transmitting data between any networks within range. There are security measures in place to prevent this minor communication from compromising you, but not all wireless routers are the same, and hackers can be a pretty smart bunch. If you’re just using your computer to work on a Word or Excel document, keep your Wi-Fi off. As a bonus, you’ll also experience a much longer battery life.

Surf with the right settings

Most of today’s computers have a built-in firewall that you can turn on and off. It is one measure that protects your computer from unwanted access. At home, you may be using a private network that is already protected with a firewall, but when you’re in public, that might not be the case.