Hey, I'm Dave Spilker, the President and Founder of the company Network Engineering (NE-INC) based in Indianapolis, IN. Recently, my wife and I traveled across the United States on a vacation. It got me thinking more about the safe ways to use Wi-Fi these days. WIth the ever-increasing amount of cyber attacks and online hacking in the past few years, I wanted to share some “rules” for safe Wi-Fi and data usage that I follow.
What are the “rules” for safe Wi-Fi and data usage that I follow?
#1 Use a hotspot when traveling. It is very easy, reasonably inexpensive, and A WHOLE LOT SAFER! I had two of these gizmos with us, on our train trip across the Northern US. One was from AT&T (using my iPhone), and the other was a Verizon JetPack.
which brings me to another Wi-Fi rule:
#2 DO NOT set your computer or tablet to automatically jump on to a specific Wi-Fi. Here is why: there are tool kits out there now, where hackers can setup a “dummy” hotspot, and try to make it look like one you are used to using. If your system is set to AUTOMATICALLY jump onto one of these Wi-Fi’s when it sees it, you could be logging right into a hacker’s Wi-Fi. I turn on my tablet or laptop first, and see what Wi-Fi’s are out there, and THEN turn on MY access point, and see it pop up!
As I’ve described before, I think it is VERY DANGEROUS to have a device setup to automatically connect to any Wi-Fi network. It’s not that difficult for someone to drive down your street, with a Wi-Fi named “McDonald's WiFi” or “ABC Healthcare”, and just see who’s computers would automatically connect. It’s just like storing passwords in a browser…JUST DON’T DO IT.
#3 In this day and age, I'm leaning toward being a little extra careful (paranoid perhaps?). If you DO have to login a public Wi-Fi, then I would recommend that you make sure your software firewall is turned on for public connections, then immediately login to a SSL VPN Security type of software, so you are establishing a secure encrypted connection between your device and your home or office.
#4 Don’t let your browser store passwords, unless it is to something you REALLY do not care about. Maybe your newspaper subscription password could be saved, but just memorize your bank password.
#5 Use a platform such as BitLocker, or some similar type of hard drive encryption, so that if your device is stolen, the data cannot be retrieved easily by someone removing and using your hard drive in another computer.
#6 Have a cloud-based backup solution such as Carbonite, backing up critical data, so if the device is stolen, lost, or crushed, you still have your data.
#7 Consider a credit freeze while on vacations with all three credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. This prevents someone getting a mortgage in your name, while you are gazing into the Grand Canyon. It just takes a few minutes, and can make it just that much harder for a hacker.
These are things I thought about while on vacation, and I hope you find them useful. Some may say doing all these things make one seem paranoid, but I guarantee there’s many people that regret not taking these proactive steps to protect themselves when it’s too late!