If I’m being honest, hardware just isn’t my area. Nor is any type of networking.
Give me any piece of software on the planet and a day alone with a computer, and I’ll figure out how to use it, and most of the admin cracks to make it perform the way you want it to – luckily I’m not a programmer or I’d be down right dangerous.
But if a printer breaks anywhere in my vicinity, I’m on the run. If your internet goes down and it can’t be fixed by restarting the router, I’m ghost in that case as well.
Because someone will eventually ask “that computer chick” for help. Which is like asking a tarantula to help you with math. It’s not that they’re not lethal. it’s that it can’t kill math.
However, there are some things you just have to learn, even if you’re a freelancer or owner of a micro-business, if you want to protect yourself, and at least as importantly, your employees.
That goes double for those of you who have coffee shop office hours. Protecting your networked devices is one of them – and it alarms me how often I forget to check my smartphone or tablet settings when I first get new ones.
I can’t be the only one making that mistake.
You don’t have to be blatantly negligent to get hacked or to have your identity stolen either.
Your smartphone might have a default setting that jumps onto any available wifi, whether you ask it to or not. And if you own a business, small or large, even the tiniest connection between your devices and your business is a big enough crack for a malicious person to slip through.
I’ve tested lots of software to try and protect myself for those times when I simply Must use the free wifi option. I have 3G on my iPad, but sometimes I just can’t get a strong enough signal. The latest one I’ve tried is AnchorFree‘s HotSpot Shield, and I’m pretty happy with it.
But what I like it for is that for networking and hardware dummies like myself, it makes creating a virtual private network (VPN) super easy. Which protects me from the dangers of Free Wifi.
And there’s a version for both Android and Apple, as well as Windows and Mac.It had the added benefit of protecting against malware as well.
If you travel a lot, you know what I mean about being left with unprotected WiFi as your only option to get online.
And what if something happens and your only option for checking your bank account is online?
What if there’s billing information on your smartphone that is accessible? What if someone can hack your iPad, and figure out that password for your favorite forum is the same as the one for your banking site?
Hacking your life isn’t something that’s always done directly — sometimes they take pieces of your life, put them together and figure other stuff out.
If, like me, you’re not so bright with the VPN creation, and don’t have people for that onsite, I’d recommend this app. There’s a free version, though I suggest testing it out then getting the upgrade, from my own personal experience.
(Wait, why don’t I have people for that? I have a different IT guy every time now that I think of it.)
Here’s some more advice I found for protecting yourself when you use free wifi. Think about making this one little change that could protect your identity from being stolen, your business from getting compromised, or your site from being hacked.
- San Diego police article about protecting yourself against WfFi Hacking
- CBS News on the Dangers of Free WiFi
- Quick and Dirty Tech Section – good tips about VPN if you don’t know what it is.
Flickr image courtesy of Don Hankins