There are plenty of opportunities to connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots when you're on the go these days. Coffee shops, hotels, restaurants and airports are just some of the places where you can jump online, but often these networks are open and not secure. Whether you're using a laptop, tablet or smartphone, you'll want to connect your device securely to protect your data as much as possible. Here's some simple steps you can take to help make sure your data is safe on open public Wi-Fi.
Then under Private, Files and printer sharing, Guest or Public, turn off network discovery. Make sure to click Save changes for them to take effect. Also turn off file and printer sharing.
Note: To turn off sharing in Mac OS X go to Sharing Options > Change Advanced Sharing Settings.
One of my favorites is ProXPN which is free for the basic version. However, this option limits your speed throughput to 300 kbps, which might not be enough for some users. The premium account will set you back US$6.25 per month and offers full speed and additional features. It works on Windows, Mac, and there's a mobile version for your smartphones or tablet. The process is simple: set up an account, install the software, log in, and you'll be securely connected online.
If the idea of paying for a VPN doesn't appeal to you, give Hotspot Shield a try. It's free but ad supported unless you purchase the elite version which is US$29.95 per year, which is still cheaper than ProXPN. Also, during installation be sure to do a custom install, and uncheck each of the options that will add a toolbar, change your default search engine, and home page. If you can deal with a few ads, your connection to Wi-Fi hotspots will be secure, and that's the main thing. If you're only using it on rare occasions, say at the coffee shop, the ads aren't too annoying. It works on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.
Here's an example of a Hotspot shield ad for the free version. It displays on top of the page, so it's not too intrusive.
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