How to Avoid Hacks Through Public Networks?

cybersecurity

Life without the internet is next to impossible now. Whether it’s social media that you need to use, chat with a friend on WhatsApp, or even follow a location using Google maps, you need the internet for everything. Of course, hotspot and mobile data can be expensive, so you cannot have it all the time. 

Due to that, most people use public Wi-Fi connections here and there. Every time they go to a restaurant, they ask for the Wi-Fi code or connect to the free one and use it. As convenient as it is, a public network has its risks. Yes, a public network isn’t entirely safe and it could be risky to use one as it makes your device and data vulnerable.

Thankfully, there are ways you can avoid hacks when using a public network. Let me walk you through a few of them so that you know what you need to do the next time you use a public network. 

Change Passwords Frequently 

First and foremost, you need to make a habit of changing your passwords frequently. Whatever applications you use, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or even your mobile banking application, make sure to change your passwords once a month. Also, be sure not to save passwords in your device. 

Moreover, please don’t set up simple or short passwords. Add capital and small alphabets, digits, and special characters and create complex passwords. In case you cannot remember them all, you can write your passwords down on a piece of paper and have it with you wherever you go. 

Turn on Two-Factor Authentication 

Most people forget this step and it costs them a lot later down the road. The good thing is that pretty much all social media platforms and banking applications offer two-factor authentication these days. When you type in the password, you receive a text message on your number or an email with a pin code.

Without the pin code, it doesn’t allow you to log into the app even if you know the password. Thus, it’s the best way to keep your mobile applications and data secure. Switch on the two-factor authentication and stay on the safer side of the screen. 

Get a VPN

While having complex passwords, changing them frequently, and switching on the two-factor authentication may help, it isn’t all you need. One thing that always helps with a public network is a VPN, an abbreviation for virtual private network. 

The best part of the story is that a VPN works everywhere with all kinds of networks. You don’t necessarily need to have a dedicated IP address for a VPN. Hence, it’s best to download and install one and turn it on every time you use a public network. It will hide your IP address and location, keeping you safe from malware, virus, and subsequently, hacking

Try an Antivirus System 

In case you’re not satisfied with a VPN, you can use an antivirus system instead. It can help keep your device secure when it’s connected to a public network. It will detect viruses and malware instantly and leave you a notification in case there’s a suspicious activity taking place. 

However, when using an antivirus system, you must know that an old version of it isn’t going to cut it. To keep your device secure, you must get its newest version installed in your device. Of course, it’s going to cost you a little as most antivirus systems are paid and some even have a monthly subscription fee, so in case you’re not willing to spend the money, I suggest you stick to a VPN. 

Enable the Firewall 

Last but not least, please keep your firewall enabled when using public Wi-Fi. It will prevent hackers from getting access to your device. Though it won’t provide 100% protection against malware, it could be extremely useful when used in combination with a VPN. 

It will become a barrier between your device and data-based malware risks. Simply switch it on from your device’s settings and it will keep a check on data packets coming from the public network you’re using and will alert in case something isn’t safe. Not to mention, it will block unsafe data, which will keep your device secure from data threats. 

The Takeaway 

Apart from the tips mentioned above, I’d say you must only browse encrypted sites and applications when using a public Wi-Fi. Many mobile applications like WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted now; thus, your data remains safe, regardless of the network you use. The same goes for websites. HTTPS websites are usually encrypted; hence, safe to use. 

When browsing the internet using a public connection, check the website URL. See if it says HTTP or HTTPS. The ones with HTTPS are your websites. It’s quite simple. Also, please don’t forget to change your passwords and switch on a VPN when using a public Wi-Fi. After all, your digital security is very important.

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