With the holiday travel season rapidly approaching, many of us will have the opportunity to use public Wi-Fi during the coming months.

wifi-logoHere are some basic tips from the ABA Journal to make you less of a target when using public Wi-Fi:

l. Get your shields up. You want to understand how vulnerable your computer is—right now, after you take steps to improve security and on an ongoing basis. For many years the easiest way to determine that has been to run the diagnostics at Shields Up. This project of computer security expert Steve Gibson will scan and report on your system’s vulnerabilities.

2. Get the firewall. Besides blocking ways outsiders can get into your computer while allowing desired activity, some firewall programs can identify or block malware from sending data out of your computer. Both Windows and Mac OSX have built-in firewall programs; you’ll want to check that they are turned on and properly configured.

3. Turn off file-sharing. A major vulnerability, especially on a Windows computer, comes from having sensitive files in folders where file sharing is permitted. Someone who gets to your computer can then access everything in those folders. As a general principle, you can turn off and on file-sharing for individual folders. A good idea is to have only one “public” folder where you can put files that can be shared only when they need to be shared.

4. Get malware protection. If you’ve read anything lately about botnet attacks, you’ll know that a primary goal of malware is to allow bad actors to take over your computer and launch cyber-attacks over the Internet. Good anti-virus/malware protection is a must today. A sound practice is to scan for malware after you’ve used any public Wi-Fi network.

5. Use good security hygiene. If you will be in a public Wi-Fi setting, you need to concentrate on good security practices. Use a virtual private network if you have that option available to you. Evaluate your surroundings and the people around you.

Download sensitive documents at your office. Use strong passwords. Activate security protections for social media accounts. Be hesitant to use online banking, e-commerce and other sensitive services in a public setting.

Make sure that when you see multiple Wi-Fi networks at a location, you use the correct network and avoid any network called public Wi-Fi. Use common sense, update programs, be aware of current security issues, and follow the instructions of your IT consultant.

Network 1 Consulting is a 13-year-old, IT Support company in Atlanta, GA.  We become the IT department for professional services companies: law firms, medical practices and financial services firms.  Our IT experts can fix computers – but what our clients really value is the industry-specific best practices we bring to their firm.  This is especially important with technology, along with regulations and cyber threats, changing so rapidly.  We take a proactive approach to helping our clients use technology to gain and keep their competitive advantage.

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