Using your devices safely in public

Published: November 13, 2019

There’s never been a stronger demand for keeping our devices connected and online whenever possible, but how safe is public WiFi, for example? We’ve put together a list of our top safety precautions to keep you and your computer, tablet and smart phone rid of stranger danger.

Using public WiFi

A free public WiFi hotspot can seem tempting when you’ve got a close eye on your smart phone or tablet’s dwindling monthly data allowance. Unfortunately it can be risky using these networks for personal web browsing, as you don’t know who set up the network or who is connected to it. Before connecting you’ll see a prompt to read the ‘Terms and Conditions’ of using the service. While you may not understand them word-for-word, it should give you an idea of the risks regarding your privacy.

Keeping personal information secure

The biggest threat when using public or community WiFi is that hackers can potentially access any personal information you send while connected. This can include login details, emails, addresses, phone numbers, business data and credit card details. Public networks are only really suited to general web browsing and your device should never be left unattended. Consider using your smart phone as a hotspot or save your online banking and shopping until you get home!

Downloads and streaming

Wanting to stream entertainment while you’re in a public place? The speeds offered over a shared WiFi network can be slow and unreliable, often with a crowd of people using them simultaneously. Consider downloading videos and music for offline access from the safety of your own home beforehand. Also, keep in mind many security vulnerabilities come when you’re using outdated software or an old version of an operating system, so install these updates on a network you trust. Avoid downloading any software from untrustworthy sources and keep an anti-virus program running.

Using a VPN

Security savvy people will often use a VPN (virtual private network) to overcome safety issues with public WiFi. Connecting to WiFi using VPN encrypts your private information, allows you to browse the internet anonymously and doesn’t track your online activities and location. It allows you to access web pages and open apps safely. Some devices come with VPN features installed or you can purchase a product subscription that gives you these capabilities. Chat to our tech support team for more information.

Lending accessories

Sharing cables

Frequent use of WiFi and Bluetooth when you’re on-the-go can drain your devices’ battery life quickly. Ever considered borrowing a charging cable from another traveller near a charging station at the airport or from a hotel guest in the front lobby? There have been news reports of some hackers implanting dangerous malware in various types of cables. While these incidents are relatively uncommon, it’s better to be on the safe side and always bring your own charging accessories with you.

Sharing storage devices

Ever thought about borrowing a portable hard drive to share or back up some precious photos or work-related documents? Or what about using a USB that you found on the ground? Storage devices can be implanted with harmful data or viruses for the unsuspecting user. Be wary when you’re given a USB freebie from a conference or expo – you’re using it at your own risk.

If you need help with adjusting security settings on your device for peace of mind, our tech support team are just a phone call away! Check this blog periodically or our social media channels to keep up to date with the latest tech tips.

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