8 Tips for Internet Security on Public Wi-Fi While You Travel

by John Burke

3 min read

Thanks to mobile devices and cloud computing technology, you don’t have to be disconnected from your work when you travel for business. If you access the internet through public Wi-Fi, you might be making your devices vulnerable to hackers. It’s important to make sure that your personal and company accounts stay secure when you’re on the go. Follow these security tips to keep your devices and data safe.

Watch Your Address Bar

The green padlock symbol to the left of the URL window on your browser tells you that your connection is safe. If a site isn’t secure, you might see a small circle with an exclamation point in it instead. You might not see the same warning circle on mobile devices, but you’ll see a padlock highlighted with green. To be safe, don’t input data on mobile sites that don’t display a green padlock.

File Sharing and Firewalls

File-sharing settings let you share work documents, music, and other files on your home network. Leaving these settings on when you travel makes it easy for anyone to access your files over public networks. You don’t need to be an internet criminal to see files on other devices when sharing settings are on. Before you go out, be sure to turn off file and printer sharing on your devices. Go to the security settings to sure your firewall is turned on.

Turn Off Connections to Public Networks

If you tend to use the same public Wi-Fi spots in your favorite cafes and shopping spots, you might notice that your devices automatically connect to the internet the next time you come into range. Automatic logins can make your devices vulnerable to intrusion when you venture into areas covered by public networks. After you log off from public networks, you should always log into your Wi-Fi settings and instruct your device to forget the account.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication adds additional layers of security to your login process and makes your accounts more difficult for intruders to hack. In addition to just entering your login and password to open an account, you have to answer personal questions that you entered when you set up your account. Follow the instructions for creating a secure password in each account. The downside of two-factor authentication is that you might forget the answers to some of your authentication questions. You should also include a phone or recovery email in your account in case you forget your information and accidentally lock yourself out of your accounts.

Keep Devices Up to Date

It might seem inconvenient when your laptop or mobile device alerts you to install another security patch. If you work on the go, you should install security patches as soon as they show up. It’s never a good idea to install updates on a public network. Only install updates when you’re on a secure network so you can keep your login information private.

Stay Out of Sensitive Accounts

When you access your bank or credit card accounts on unsecured public networks, internet criminals may be able to see parts of your login information and try to extract more information. For example, someone who finds out where you bank might send phishing emails to trap you into logging into fake account pages. To stay on the safe side, check your financial and other sensitive accounts only when you’re on secure networks at home or at work.

Use a Mobile Hotspot

You can eliminate most of the dangers of computing on the go by using your own mobile hotspot to access the web. Your smartphone might already have built-in mobile hotspot capability, or you can buy a separate Wi-Fi device. Data plans vary in different regions across Canada. If you don’t pay close attention to data caps in your plan, you could end up with a high bill; check with your service provider to make sure you’re signed up for the right data package to avoid blocked access or overage fees.

Use a VPN

If you have to use public Wi-Fi to work online, the best way to keep your devices and data safe are by installing a virtual private network app on your device. VPNs protect your data by routing transmissions between your computer and websites via tunnels through secure servers. You can find reputable VPN apps by searching in the extensions section of your favorite web browser. Choose an app that’s updated frequently, with a high number of positive reviews. Small business internet security is a serious concern. Use these tips as a checklist to keep your business devices and data secure when you’re on the road.

References & Resources

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