Wi-Fi has revolutionized the way we communicate, play and work and public Wi-Fi networks are on the increase. But, if you are not careful about using public WiFi networks strangers can snoop on your e-mails and social network conversations or even hack into your credit card account and bank account. Follow the Internet security safety precautions that are listed below and you’ll be able to surf more securely on public Wi-Fi networks.
Internet Security Precautions:
1. Don’t Share Anything
Sharing files and devices in your home WiFi network is safe, but it’s a liability on public WiFi networks. If you don’t have Internet security password protection on all the files in your computer, literally anybody in the public WiFi network you’re connected to can be able to browse through your device.
2. Never Disable Your Firewall
The firewall will help prevent other people or malware on the wireless network from connecting to your computer. Most operating systems have built-in personal firewalls and you can also install a third party firewall from different providers.
3. Know What Wi-Fi Network You Want to Use
You must always know the name of the Wi-Fi network that you’re planning to use and take the necessary Internet security precautions. Hackers can easily set up “fake” Wi-Fi networks in public spaces. These WiFi networks go directly to their hardware, and this gives them the opportunity to browse all your information freely.
4. Only Use HTTPS Sites
When using a public WiFi network, send personal information or log in only to sites that you know are fully encrypted. Look for HTTPS in the web address, which stands for – (HTTP over SSL or HTTP Secure) so that you can find fully encrypted websites. Additionally, always ensure that it appears before providing potentially compromising information. The same goes for e-mail, only this time, search for SSL. When you’re using a desktop email client, you should always make sure that it has SSL encryption in the client’s settings.
5. Consider Using a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) ensures your Internet security by basically creating a tunnel between your computer, tablet or smartphone and a third party server. All the data that goes through this secure tunnel is encrypted and as a result hidden from the WiFi provider and anybody trying to sniff the Wi-Fi network.
On June 17th, 2015, the UN special rapporteur for freedom of media expression, David Kaye, presented a documented report on the importance of using encryption and web anonymity in virtual communications. His report was presented to the 29th session of the Human Rights Council for consideration. It recognizes the use of these technologies in helping people exercise certain privileges like the freedom of opinion, self-expression and online anonymity.
Senior researcher at Human Rights Watch Mrs. Cynthia Wong had said that strong data encryption and online anonymity are critical tools in protecting human rights activists, journalists, and other ordinary internet users in the modern age that we live in. It gives them a safe and secure place to express their thoughts without worrying about arbitrary arrests coming from the state, especially at a time when most governments around the world are looking for ways of expanding invasive surveillance programs. Some of the report’s key recommendations include:
I. Signatory countries should avoid taking measures that are aimed at weakening security for citizens who use the Internet, such as authorizing “back door” infiltrations, fallible encryption standards and corrupting key escrow arrangements. The report also requires technology companies to avoid building vulnerabilities into secured digital products, since this can greatly undermine the security of those using such products.
II. Countries should refrain from imposing blanket prohibitions on matters encryption and online anonymity, such polices only infringe on the rights of innocent people to access the web freely and are therefore not necessary. Some of these blanket restrictions include the state controlling importation and export of decoding tools and users requiring licensing before getting encryption on their respective PCs.
III. Nations should avoid making official identification of users a requirement before accessing web services, or SIM card registry for those who use mobile phones to browse the net. Any restrictions whatsoever on online anonymity should be based on logic, targeted on a specific case-basis such as when there’s enough evidence that one is using their privilege to break certain Internet laws.
The initial surveillance leaks from Snowden, former contractor of the U.S. National Security Agency, has drawn major debate on whether it’s appropriate for governments to share their virtual information with other states for security reasons. The heightened pressure in some nations for Internet anonymity data policies will not just hurt U.S tech gurus, but also vendors from other countries around the world since they’ll have to comply with these same regulations as well. For instance, a Russian data localization law is expected to be passed by September 2015.
Generally, it’s estimated that the data backlash exhibited by these foreign states will cost U.S. tech companies anywhere between $21.5 and $35 billion dollars. It’s now emerging that the entire U.S. IT economy, and not just the cloud-computing sector, has immensely underperformed since Snowden’s revelations. Apart from Russia’s upcoming regulation, Germany and France are also trying to create their own private Internet anonymity networks while other countries such as China, India and Australia have already imposed data localization laws. Even before Snowden’s revelations, some countries had already began pressing for regulation of data within their respective territories, but this unfortunate event only made them more adamant in pursuing this goal for Internet anonymity reasons.