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Tips and Tricks

[Tips & Tutorials] Security Tips & Guidelines to Follow While Using Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

2019-04-23 02:04:15
438 15
Hello Mi Fans,

People are addicted to free Wi-Fi and don't think twice about connecting to any network that can get them online in most cases. Getting Wi-Fi in a hotel, on an airplane, even in a restaurant or bar drives decision-making on where to go and stay. The most important thing to access is GPS information and public Wi-Fi in hotels/rentals to watch adult content—and I'm not talking about HBO GO. There are plenty of people doing that on trains, buses, airports, at work, and even in the public toilet.

For many, public Wi-Fi hotspots are just too convenient to ignore. But that's risky behavior, especially because it's not that hard to make sure you're secure. Some of the tips below involve common sense; the rest you can set up before you even leave the house or office. Make sure the next hotspot you connect to—be it in the café or in the sky—isn't a security nightmare waiting to happen.

Pick the Correct Network

Have you ever tried to connect to public Wi-Fi and seen multiple network names that are similar but not the same? EricsCoffeeHaus versus EriksCoffeeHaus, or HiltonGuest versus HiltonGuests, for example. This is a tried-and-true man-in-the-middle attack used by hackers—dubbed Wi-Phishing—which tries to trick you into logging into the wrong network to get to your info. Most people don't take the time to check, and jump on the strongest, open signal they see. But you should always check that you pick the legitimate network.

Pick a Secure Network

When you want to pick a Wi-Fi hotspot to log into, try and find one that's got you locked out. You read that right. Usually if you see the lock icon, it means you can't get access. Networks with zero security don't have a lock icon next to them, or the word "secured," which shows on a Windows laptop. On an iPhone, if you click an unsecured network—even if it's your own at home—you'll get a warning that reads "Security Recommendation."

Of course, this isn't a hard and fast rule. Some hotspots don't show the lock because they have what's called "walled garden" security: you have to log in via a browser to get access to the internet. The login usually is provided by the hotspot—you may get it from the front desk at a hotel, for example, while checking in.

It's best to stick to hotspots where the provider—be it a conference, hotel, or coffee shop—provides you with a clear network to choose, plus a password to grant access. Then you know at least you're on the network you're meant to be using.

Ask to Connect

You can set most devices to ask before they connect to a network, rather than just automatically connecting to either the strongest open network around, or a network they've connected to before. That's a good idea; never assume the network you used in one place is as safe as one with the same name in another place. Anyone with the right tools could spoof a Wi-Fi network's broadcast name (called the SSID). If the device asks first, you've got a chance to make a decision about whether it's safe to connect or not. On iOS for example, go to Settings  Wi-Fi, and check off "Ask to Join Networks." On Android, the exact path will vary, but look for Wi-Fi preferences in Settings.

Subscribe to Hotspots

Services like Boingo—which partners with others to provide access to over 1 million hotspots around the globe—or Gogo, which provides hotspots specifically for planes in flight, are two of the big names in subscription Wi-Fi services. Pay them a monthly fee—which can get pricey—and you know when you find their certified hotspots, they're a lot less likely to be run by the bad guys. (Not impossible, but pretty unlikely.)

Boingo has apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac to help you find hotspots it supports and get signed in; the service costs $14.99 a month ($4.98 for the first month) and you can connect four devices to those 1 million hotspots. A day pass is $7.95.

Gogo charges for in-flight Wi-Fi by the hour ($7), day ($19), or has monthly recurring cost of $49.95.

Use Hotspot 2.0

Never heard of 802.11u? How about Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint? They're all the same thing: a method to help people not only securely get on a hotspot, but roam from supported hotspot to hotspot, cell-tower style. That means you enter credentials to sign in once, which get reused at hotspots all over the place, logging you in instantly and securely.

A device has to have the right hardware installed to support Hotspot 2.0, but the major operating systems like Windows 10, macOS, iOS, and Android support it. In Windows, go to Settings  Network & Internet  Wi-Fi and flip the switch under Hotspot 2.0 networks to turn it on. In Android, search for it in Settings.

You can find it in locations with consistent ISP providers like Optimum or Spectrum, or from paid hotspot providers like Boingo. If it's an option for you, use it.

Be Your Own Hotspot

Rather than risk everyone in a group using iffy Wi-Fi, one person could designate their own device as the hotspot. Almost all laptops and phones make it easy to become your own hotspot for others. The best person to do this is someone with a tethering-capable carrier data plan on their laptop, tablet, or phone—since the backhaul to the internet doesn't have to then go through the public Wi-Fi. It won't be fast, but it will be more secure.

In Windows 10, turn it on at Settings  Network & Internet  Mobile Hotspot. Pick the kind of internet connection used (if there is more than one option; this is best if you've got an Ethernet connection), and copy the name of the network to hand out to people (or change it), as well as the network password they need for access (or change it—it must be eight characters at least).

On macOS, go to Apple Menu  System Preferences  Sharing and click the Internet Sharing box. Pick a connection type to share, how you plan to share it (Wi-Fi, duh), then click Wi-Fi options to name your Mac hotspot and give it a password.

On iOS, just go to Settings  Wi-Fi  Personal Hotspot to toggle it on. You can also reset the password here to one that's minimum 8 characters. Android users need KitKat or newer; look for a button under Quick Settings.

Take Your Hotspot With You

Public access Wi-Fi is great, but you could just carry your hotspot with you. Cellular modem hotspots have their own battery, use cellular backhaul for an internet connection, and provide multiple people with Wi-Fi access. Sure, it costs more, but it might be worth it if you've got a lot of traveling ahead.

Avoid Personal Data in Hotspots

This is less a technical tip than a behavioral one: if at all possible, avoid doing more serious tasks like bill paying, accessing your bank account, or using your credit card when connected to public Wi-Fi. And filing your taxes at a hotspot? No way. Save those transactions for when you're connected safely to your home network, where you're a lot less likely to get targeted by snoops, since you already keep that one secure, right?

Avoid Using Your Passwords

There are a lot of passwords to remember, and you probably have to enter a few even while you're on public Wi-Fi. But if you've been compromised—say some hacker is sniffing the airwaves and pulling down data—anything you type and send to the internet could be equally compromised. That's why you should use a password manager like Keeper or Dashlane. They store passwords for you and keep them encrypted, even on mobile apps. If you do use passwords, try to make sure they're on sites where you have two-factor authentication set up.

Use a VPN

This should go without saying: you need a virtual private network (VPN) when you're on a public network. We live in a surveillance/hacker state today that rivals that of Orwell's 1984—if you're not careful.

A VPN creates a private tunnel between your laptop or smartphone and the VPN server on the other end, encrypting your traffic from snoops—even your ISP or the operator of the hotspot itself.

Disable Sharing

When you connect to a network with a PC, be it a Windows or Mac, the goal is typically to share some services—at the very least files and printing ability. If you leave that sharing option open at a hotspot and connect to the wrong thing, you're giving bad guys easy access. Disable it before you go out. In Windows 10, go to Settings  Network and Internet  Wi-Fi  Change Advanced Sharing Options (on the right) and look for Guest or Public—click the down caret to open that section. Click the radio buttons next to "Turn off network discovery" so your PC isn't seen, and "Turn off file and printer sharing" to avoid sharing.

Use HTTPS and SSL

Most websites use the HTTPS protocol to support SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to make your connection to them more secure—and avoid getting dinged by Google. You can typically tell if the site you're on uses HTTPS even if you can't see it listed in the URL. For example, a lock icon  and the word "Secure" appear at the start of the address bar in the Chrome browser on the desktop (the lock appears on most smartphone browsers). The Electronic Frontier Foundation's HTTPS Everywhere extension for Chrome, Firefox, or Opera will force every site connection you make to the secure option, if available.

Keep Your OS and Apps Updated

Operating system (OS) updates are an annoying yet necessary evil. OS updates are serious business; they often fix serious security holes. Once an update is available, everyone in the world knows about the holes in the previous iteration—if you haven't patched it, your device becomes low-hanging fruit ready to be plucked by an opportunistic hacker.

Don't forget your mobile apps either. App updates also fix serious security holes. Especially the browser apps, but anything that goes online could be vulnerable. On iOS, go to Settings  iTunes & App Store Updates, and toggle it on so apps update themselves. On Android devices you can do the same with Google Play  Settings  Auto-update apps, and choose whether you want auto updates to happen over any network or just when you're on Wi-Fi.

Maybe Use That Firewall

You may rely on the firewall in your router at home, but it should be paired up with the software firewall on your desktop PC. Windows 10 has a good, built-in one at Control Panel  System and Security  Windows Defender Firewall.

While a VPN is sufficient for most issues you'd face, make sure the Windows firewall is also up and running on your laptop. Click "Turn Windows Firewall on or off" to to block all incoming connections, for example. (It doesn't kill all traffic—you get web pages you request, for example. It only blocks incoming traffic you don't request.)

If you want more granular control in a firewall, get a standalone firewall prouct. It can add that extra layer of protection against hacks and bad programs, but checks against a whitelist database of allowed uses to cut down on the annoying pop-ups that were such a problems with ye olde firewalls.

Hope these tips will make your browsing safe and secure!

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2019-04-23 02:04:15
Favorites6 RateRate
Thanks for sharing
2019-04-23 02:12:13

Pro

Staripper | from MI 8 SE

#2

Good info.
2019-04-23 02:53:46

Wizard

Animesh Singh | from Redmi Note 6 Pro

#3

Thanks for sharing
2019-04-23 03:01:21
Awesome! Thanks!
2019-04-23 03:13:23

Bug Hunter Team

Sampath madurai | from Redmi Note 4

#5

Nice thanks for your information.
2019-04-23 04:28:11

Master

1860bodo | from Redmi Note 5

#6

thanks for information
2019-04-23 04:56:01

Wizard

ph.eliezer | from Redmi 5

#7

Thanks for the information
2019-04-23 05:21:41
@ph.eliezer

Grand Master

Mici007 | from MIX

#8

Thanks helpful security tips and guidelines.

2019-04-23 06:07:04
great info,thanks for sharing
2019-04-23 07:18:01
Wai Yan Hein Thant
MIUI Beta Team - Global,
Mi Community,
Regards.

News Reporter

ᎮᏒᎥᏁፈᏋ | from Redmi Note 4X

#10

thanks for sharing Informative article
2019-04-23 09:09:35
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