How to protect your privacy on public Wi-Fi networks

“So you’re at your favorite coffee shop and have hopped on to the free WiFi with your tablet to check your social networks, read the latest news, and maybe take a quick peek at your bank balance while you’re enjoying your latte,” Elizabeth Harper writes for Techlicious. “We’re so used to having Internet access whenever and wherever we need it that we don’t often stop to consider whether logging into a public network is safe.”

“Using public WiFi isn’t unlike having a conversation in a public place: Others can overhear you. If you don’t take precautions, information your devices send over a public WiFi network goes out in clear text — and anyone else on the network could easily take a look at what you’re doing with just a few simple software tools.,” Harper writes. “Someone spying could easily pick up your passwords or other private information. If you use the same password on multiple sites, that could be a big problem”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


    1. – Epic is Chromium, the Google open source browser.
      – Epic does not block tracking cookies.
      – Epic cannot stop you from using regular HTTP (no S) website connections.
      – No web browser can compensate for what we have found to be inherent flaws in some (not all) implementations of SSL, which is the encryption protocol used in HTTPS connections. (I recommend using the add-on Calomel with Firefox for scrutinizing SSL quality).

      There are lots of tools for optimizing privacy via web browsers on open Wi-Fi connections. But in general, the best bet is to only use HTTPS connections to anywhere. In your email, be sure you are using SSL as well. No single web browser including Tor) is going to keep you perfectly anonymous. But there are lots of strategies.

  1. Security on free wifi is a “you get what you pay for” situation. It’s easy to find the instructions and software for script kiddies to use an Android phone to hijack the web connection on a public, no-password wifi and route it through a remote server capturing all traffic to analyze the packets later at their convenience. Using an encrypted tunnel via ssh opened with a public-key system is an easy (relatively easy, that is), quite safe workaround.

  2. I like this article! Except the ending. This is silly:

    Make sure your computer isn’t configured to share access to files…. Mac OS X: Go to System Preferences > Sharing and be sure that File Sharing doesn’t have a check mark by it.

    If one is an administrator and worried about what are called ‘LUSERS’, those being dangerous users who attract security problems, then I’d entirely agree about turning off file sharing. Otherwise, I think it’s a needless worry, to put it mildly. If you have a password on your computer and you force logging in, versus automatic login, AND you use a diabolical password on your account, as everyone should, there is no danger of anyone getting into your computer, let alone worrying about file sharing.

    A far better piece of advice:
    TURN OFF GUEST USERS. That can be done at System Preferences / Users & Groups [or whatever name your version of OS X uses for it] /Guest User. Be sure to UN-check all the boxes for Guest User. Never turn them on. Then you won’t be caught forgetting they’re on. Only let people onto your computer via their own password protected account. Tough luck if they don’t like it.

    Oh and another piece of useful advice:
    NEVER buy anything from Symantec. I’m glad the consultant got it mostly right and that he was so helpful. But Symantec perennially has HATED Apple and provided GARBAGE for software. I would never trust Symantec to do anything right or adequately on OS X. Never. That’s my personal opinion. My personal choice continues to be anything from Intego. They’re an excellent security company with dedicated attention to Mac, IMHO. 😉

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