02 Apr 2016

Keep Your Data Secure while on Spring Break

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Whether you’re going away on Spring Break or just can’t wait to be outside at this time of year, when using a public Wi-Fi network to do your work or check emails, review the tips in this article to keep your data secure.

When you log into a public Wi-Fi network, it is important to know that you are sharing that network with many other people in your area, and thus your data is at risk of being accessed or even stolen. If you are handling PII on a public Wi-Fi network, it is even more dangerous.

There is a way to securely connect to a public Wi-Fi network and protect your data, however. Learn how to configure your network settings so that you are staying secure no matter where you are this season, below!

Step 1: Turn Off Sharing

When you are at home, you may not realize that you are sharing files, printers or allowing remote logins from other computers via your network sharing settings. This is not as much of a problem at home as it is on a public network, where other users can access your files very easily if these settings are turned on.

To turn off sharing:

  • On Windows: Click Start and navigate to your Control Panel (usually on the right side of the menu). Then click Network & Internet and navigate to the Network Sharing Center. From there, click “Change Advanced Sharing Settings” and turn off file and printer sharing, as well as network discovery and public folder sharing.
  • On Mac: Go to your System Preferences and click Sharing, then make sure all boxes are unchecked. In the same location, you should turn off network discovery to prevent others from seeing your machine on the network, thus making your computer less likely to be targeted.

Step 2: Enable Firewall

Most operating systems are equipped with a basic firewall, and it is a handy tool to keep unwanted users from accessing your files without your knowledge.

To enable your firewall:

  • On Windows: Go to your Control Panel, then click System & Security, and then Windows Firewall. Make sure your firewall is turned on.
  • On Mac: Go to System Preferences, then click Security & Privacy, and then Firewall. Make sure your firewall is turned on.

 Step 3: Consider Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

If you would like even more security while using a public Wi-Fi network, you may want to consider using a VPN, or a virtual private network, which routes all of your activity through a secure, private network, giving you added security while using a public network.

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