October is National Cyber Security Month. Jefferson County has partnered with the Golden, Lakewood, Westminster, and Wheatridge to develop 5 articles, one for each week this month, on what we think are the top things you should know about cybersecurity.
Wireless connectivity is something that we take for granted today. Everywhere we go there are opportunities to connect our wireless devices. Even though Public Wi-Fi is tremendously convenient, it isn’t always safe. Statistics show that this pervasive connectivity can be dangerous. This document will give you some tips and tricks on how to use Wi-Fi securely.
1. Pick the right network - Make sure the network you are trying to connect to is legitimate. Just because it shows ‘Coffee Shop Free Wi-Fi’ or something that sounds correct, that doesn’t mean you are connecting to the network operated by the business. Always check with the business or provider if you are uncertain about which network to use.
2. Choose only secure networks - Look for networks with a lock symbol. This means that a password is required to use the network. Check with the network operator to get the correct password to use. On occasion, you will run into networks that launch a web browser and then have you enter the password. This is also acceptable.
3. Use a VPN - VPN or Virtual Private Network is one of the safest ways to use Public Wi-Fi since your data is encrypted while it is being transmitted. This keeps someone from possibly intercepting your transmission before it gets to the destination. This service comes at an extra cost though.
4. Watch what you connect to - Connecting to important websites like your bank is generally not recommended on Public Wi-Fi. Shopping also can be perilous. Wait to do any sensitive transactions until you are connected to your own network.
5. Turn off Auto Connect - Most devices can automatically connect to certain networks that you have preselected. It usually is a good idea to turn this feature off. You might end up automatically connecting to a malicious network.
6. Watch what you share - Turn off features such as auto discovery and ‘file and print sharing.’
7. Keep your device up to date - Try to make sure that whatever device you are connecting to Wi-Fi is up to date and patched. Hackers are usually looking for devices that have vulnerabilities and having hardware or software that is out of date is at the top of the list.
8. Antivirus - Having an antivirus installed is also beneficial. AV is available for most modern cellular phones as well.
Always be suspicious when it comes to connecting wirelessly. If you feel something is not right, don’t connect!