These days it’s easier than ever to connect to the internet when you’re out and about; coffee shops, hotels, airport lounges and everywhere in between offer Wi-Fi for consumer use. But how safe are you when you’re checking your email in Starbucks? Whenever you log on to wi-fi you are connecting yourself to a network with other computers, but that network may not be secure.
Since many public wi-fi spaces are unencrypted, or at least very easy to acquire a password to, there is no telling whether your fellow users are innocently updating their Facebook statuses, or if they may be using the network for other purposes.
The first thing you need to do to make sure you are secure is to turn off network sharing. In normal settings, such as at home or in the office, sharing is what allows you to send files to your printer remotely, or allow your family to access videos or photos on your laptop. If sharing remains on in a public wi-fi network, everyone else could have the same access to your files. To turn sharing off, open the Network and Internet option in your Control Panel, then select Network and Sharing Center . From there select the ‘Choose homegroup and sharing options’ tab and then select Change Advanced Sharing Settings. You will want to turn off file and printer sharing, as well as public folder sharing.
Always make sure that your firewall is on at all times if you are connected to a public wi-fi network. Your firewall options can be accessed via the Windows Firewall tab in your Control Panel. It may also be a good idea to install HTTPS Everywhere, or a similar extension, which will encrypt all the information you enter into a browser whilst online. This will keep important data such as your email password secure.