Public WiFi security: Is it possible to be safe on public WiFi?

public wifi securityMost of us use public WiFi hotspots but public WiFi security is an easy afterthought. But public WiFi security should be a top priority to avoid the next data breach.

With some basic strategies, you can avoid a majority of the possible issues. Convenience shouldn’t become a liability. Companies in many industries have faced issues. That includes credit agencies, health insurance companies, and many others have been hacked. Our weekly roundup of internet security news is full of breaches and they happen in every state.

If you’re an accountant or tax professional, your customer’s data security should be your first priority. Take our security certification here to measure your data security readiness.

Hackers gaining access to you or your customer’s social security numbers, bank information, or passwords is a legitimate threat. One which should be taken seriously and avoided at all costs. With these public WiFi security tips and by locking down your home network, you can ensure information is protected.

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Public WiFi security tips

Confirm the network name

public WiFi security

Most scammers won’t be this transparent with their WiFi name.

Make sure you connect your computer to a legitimate WiFi hotspot. One of the easiest ways for scammers to get your information is by tricking you into connecting to a fake, free WiFi network. Once connected to this hotspot all your network traffic can be recorded. This would include your sign-in credentials for banks or accounting software. If possible, ask a nearby employee what the name of the public WiFi connection is.

Avoid using your sign-in credentials

When out and about it’s best to limit your site usage to websites and services that don’t require login credentials. If you mistakenly sign into a mimic site or the internet traffic is intercepted, this information can be stolen. However, if this important information is never entered while connected to a public network, it can’t be intercepted.

Read next: Use these tips to not become a phishing scam victim

Use a VPN

If you have to ask the question “Is this WiFi hotspot secure?” then you should probably be using a VPN. The VPN will mask your location and the information transferred over this potential unsecured network. Hackers attempting to discern details like usernames and passwords will have to jump through too many hoops for it to be worth it. As an accountant or tax professional, a VPN is a required part of public wifi security.

Read next: Is two-factor authentication necessary?

Install your updates

Software updates fix possible exploits in the programming of software. These exploits are what hackers can use to gain unrestricted access to your computer or software. By keeping up to date with your Windows updates and business-related software you can minimize this risk. If there is an available update or a new version released, it’s worth considering the purchase for this reason alone.

Additional firewalls

Business-class antivirus software provides a level of protection that shouldn’t be overlooked. When on the go and concerned with public WiFi security, a software firewall is helpful. Remote monitoring and management software working in conjunction with antivirus is even better.

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When working from Home

Change the username and password for your router

When your internet company installs a router in your home, you get a default username and password. Manufacturers tend to use the same username and password across products. This stock setup obviously makes it easy for hackers to access your network. Changing it is simply like changing the locks on your front doors to ensure no one has the keys.

 

Change your WiFi password often

This is probably the simplest step on how to keep WiFi secure at home or in your office. Anyone within a certain distance of your home will have your network listed when they’re looking to connect to the internet. Your network will show up on their list. However, if you change your password every so often, the one or two people who stumbled upon your password when you taped it to your fridge won’t be able to use your WiFi anymore.

Read next: What accountants must know about managed services

Change your network name

When you change your WiFi password, make sure to change the network name. Just like the router username and password, networks get named pretty standard labels. The default name usually reveals the make and model of your router. This is useful information to a hacker. To keep WiFi secure at home, give your network name a nickname.

Lower your transmit power

Not many people consider this option when thinking about WiFi security, but it’s an important point. If your WiFi transmits to a certain radius, reduce that radius. By default, all WiFi transmits at 100% (100mW). You can lower your transmit power to roughly 75%. Do you really want the coffee shop on the corner to receive your WiFi signal?

Keep an eye on your network

Another tip on how to keep WiFi secure is simply keeping an eye on your network. If you monitor it often, you can spot unfamiliar devices or users who shouldn’t be on there. Hopefully, this sort of thing won’t happen. If you do see someone freeloading off of you, boot them off by changing your WiFi password.

Turn off your Remote Management Feature

When you enable your remote management feature on your router, it’s usually to let someone else who is not physically present troubleshoot your router. Or you would like to configure your router via the internet. Fortunately, the remote management feature is turned off by default. If you do need to enable it to troubleshoot or perform a specific task, switch it to the off position once done.


Public WiFi security and home WiFi security is not something accountants can afford to be lax about. If you have any further questions or concerns about how protected you are, Rush Tech Support would be happy to answer any questions. Give us a call at 844-881-7874 or contact us here.