Know these 3 free Wi-Fi safeguards – PLUS 14 ways to keep your mobile device secure
With Wi-Fi enabled smartphones, tablets and laptops everywhere, free Wi-Fi hotspots seem to be everywhere too. Free Wi-Fi saves you from drawing on your mobile data plan limit, but there are security risks. Hackers on the same free hotspot can make all traffic flow through their computers. They can access websites you visit, your unencrypted passwords and more. They can gather information to use for identity theft and fraud, with severe consequences.
1. Don't use free Wi-Fi unless you absolutely have to. Use your mobile network's data service and pay for higher digital limits if need be. Spending a few more dollars per month for your data plan is cheap insurance for the money you could lose from fraud or identity theft.
2. Use a secure VPN service. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts information going from your computer to the Internet, so hackers can't access it. You can surf the Web securely and your personal info is safe. Just double-check that your VPN service is reputable.
3. Don't use free Wi-Fi for anything important. If you want to use free Wi-Fi for some harmless surfing while sipping a latte, fine. Just don't do any online banking, don't use a credit card and don't go to any site that asks for a password. Yes, that includes social media!
14 PRECAUTIONS FOR MOBILE DEVICES
Now that we know how to use free public Wi-Fi, let's lock out the bad guys from your mobile devices, which contain all sorts of private, sensitive information, including photos. This data can be hacked into remotely or accessed directly if someone steals an unprotected device.
1. Customize your mobile device. If someone grabs your device, make sure they can't get your information. Use a custom lock screen and ambiguous application icons and names, not "Finances" and "Party Pics." Delete default apps you don't use.
2. Disable your GPS. Keep your location hidden until you need it for a navigation app.
3. Don't download unofficial versions of popular apps. These sites are not secure.
4. Be careful with Google Maps. If you use it, disable or don't enter your home address.
5. Don't stay online indefinitely. If you're not using the Internet, get offline.
6. Read app permissions carefully when downloading and consider whether the app really needs permission to do what it is asking. When in doubt, don’t download.
7. Don't save passwords in your browser. This is convenient but not secure. Use a password manager.
8. Put a passcode on your mobile device. Customize the lock screen if you have an Android. Use a longer passcode, not a PIN, on an iPhone.
9. Vet your apps. Check that they don't have personal info you don't want to share. Read text next to the checkboxes you click when you install apps. Audit your apps monthly.
10. Never save a password for financial apps. This includes apps for banks and anywhere you make a purchase.
11. Use cloud encryption for personal information. Android allows this for all device data.
12. Update operating system and app software. These often include security upgrades.
13. Use anti-theft software. These help you locate a lost or stolen device and wipe it remotely.
14. Back up your entire device’s data.
When it comes time to upgrade, downsize or buy your first home, we hope you'll contact us. We can help with the financing and answer questions about refinancing your current home or funding home improvements. Please call or email us any time.... Have a great day!
P.S.: Mortgage rates are still at historically attractive levels. When buying or refinancing, it's smart to start the process early. Please call or email us to explore the appealing options available now.