We now live in a changing world. Gone are the days when an office is the four walls in a building in some town. Today, an office is anywhere, as working from home, as well as working on the road has grown significantly. The same holds for travelers as more and more towns, and cities are now just a flight away. We also can stay online virtually anywhere through free Wifi networks in coffee shops, shopping malls, and airports. But with all of these advancements come challenges.
The team from Adaware Malware Labs love to answer your questions, and one of the biggest concerns for our clients is how to remain secure when using an airport Wifi network. In this article, we look at ways to keep you safe when using these types of public Wifi networks.
Encryption, encryption, encryption
A few years ago almost nothing on the internet was encrypted. By signing onto an airports Wifi network, it was possible for an online hacker to track your every move online, and possibly trick you into entering your passwords or credit card information.
Today it is not that the Wifi networks at the airports have gotten secure; it is the Web itself that has gotten more secure. Many countries have implemented mandatory encryption for consumer-facing websites. Once reserved primarily for passwords and sensitive data HTTPS was once the exception to the rule. However, now the entire web is slowly shifting from HTTP and switching to HTTPS.
The Adaware Malware lab team recommends that you only go to HTTPS websites when you are on an airport Wifi. The “S” in HTTPS stands for “Secure” it is the secure version of the standard “hypertext transfer protocol” your web browser uses when communicating with websites.
A Virtual Private Network is designed to encrypt your data, even before the shared airport Wifi sees it. Once encrypted the data is then sent to the VPN server before being distributed to your online destination. Your online destination sees your information as coming from the VPN server and its location, and not from your computer and your site. The Malware Labs team feel that using a proper VPN solution is critical. We plan to make an announcement soon regarding this particular feature. So stay tuned for an announcement regarding Web Companion 5.0.
Don’t let boredom cause you to be unsafe
Road warriors, business travelers, vacationers all do the same thing whenever they go to the airport; they go through security, get to their gate with hours to kill, so they start surfing the net, doing work, doing online banking. Being productive during those few hours is great as long as you take the proper precautions to ensure you are secure.
Treat the Wifi network at the airport as if it’s unsecured
The reason for this is self-evident, and that is because it is not secure. So changing some of your habits while online can help minimize the potential for negative consequences. When you go onto any site make sure that you log out, do not linger or stay permanently signed in your accounts.
Use a good anti-malware solution they are designed to alert you if you try to visit fraudulent websites or download malicious programs.
Some airport Wifi networks now use different types of encryption like WEP and WPA. These are a positive step forward, but they might not protect you against all kinds of hacking. If possible look for a WPA2 network, as it offers the best encryption.
Make sure that your anti-virus solution is up to date with the latest virus definitions.
Do not use the same password on different websites. It could give someone who gains access to one of your accounts access to many of your accounts.
If you shop online, use a Virtual Credit card. A virtual credit card like PayAware will help keep your real credit card data secure in the event it is stolen.
Make sure your PC’s security patches are up-to-date.
By taking steps to secure your PC before you go to the airport and while you are there will help you achieve peace of mind. Don’t let your travels be spoiled by having your data hacked.