Follow these three steps for protecting yourself and your information when you’re on the go and accessing Wi-Fi.
- Seek security. Using a secure Wi-Fi network is the easiest way to protect any information sent over websites. A secure network will require a password or code for access, which may or may not be provided by the establishment offering the connection. Typically restaurants or coffee shops will offer patrons the code.
When looking at a list of Wi-Fi connections, hover the mouse over the name or left-click on them to determine what is secure. Understand that most free Wi-Fi is convenient for a reason—and it doesn’t offer security. This means anyone on the network could see what information you send.
- Use encrypted websites. Encryption is a process that scrambles data to prevent it from being hacked, either at a log-in page or on a website. Only transmit personal information—any log-in data, photos, videos, social networking, and banking or financial data— on an encrypted webpage over an unsecure network. These sites will have “https” in the beginning of the address; check to see that the “s,” which means secure, is present beyond the log-in page, though, so that all information you submit will be safe.
- Be smart. If you’re on a public or free Wi-Fi network that’s not secure, and you aren’t sure if you’re submitting sensitive or personal information on sites that are encrypted, play it safe and save those tasks for a time when you’re on a secure, protected network. Similarly, keep these common sense tips in mind for maintaining your safety online, whether you’re on an unsecure or secure network:
- Don’t use the same passwords for different accounts.
- Change passwords regularly, especially for financial accounts or other accounts containing crucial data. Choose passwords that include numbers, special characters and capital letters. Some sites will prompt you to do this automatically, but it’s a good practice to do it about every three months.
- Vary your security questions and answer.
- Be aware of linking accounts. With the widespread use of social networking, like Facebook, to link or log in to other sites, you could be putting yourself at increased risk of being hacked—if the linking account is accessed, your personal information on other sites could be at risk.
This article was written by Roger Brent Hatcher, an attorney at Smith, Gilliam, Williams & Miles, a leading Atlanta Law Firm since 1928. Smith, Gilliam, William & Miles specialize in everything from family law to commercial litigation.