3 Tips to Protect Your Files When Using Wireless Hotspots

Being able to use wireless Internet in a public place is an amazing convenience nowadays but there are risks involved that many people do not even think about. Just carrying your unprotected mobile device into a hotspot area can put you at risk. You might be fine with sharing all your files with other devices in your home, but what happens when your device automatically connects to hotspots that you are not aware of?

Here are three basic tips to protect your files when using wireless hotspots.

Enable Your Firewall

We should always have our firewall enabled, however when using a wireless hotspot in a public area, it is even more important. Luckily all Windows operating systems come with a firewall and you can easily make sure it is turned on. Also if you have an anti-virus program on your computer, this sometimes comes with a firewall. Either way you should go to your Windows Control Panel which can be accessed through your Windows start menu to see the settings for your firewall. If you are using a firewall that came with your anti-virus program then open your program and check your firewall settings.

Disable File Sharing

We all know that we should disable file sharing when we enter an area that has unprotected Wi-Fi but do we ever do this? File and printer sharing is a great feature at it allows other computers on the same network to access resources on your precious computer or laptop. When file sharing is enabled and you are using a public hotspot, you are leaving your files exposed to hackers.

For Windows Vista and Windows Seven:

  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Network and Internet, and then click Network and Sharing Center.
  3. For Windows Seven “Under Change your network settings”, click Choose homegroup and sharing options.
  4. Under Other homegroup actions, click Change advanced sharing options.
  5. File and printer sharing, select Turn off file and printer sharing, and then click Save changes.

For Windows Vista:

  1. When you get the Network and Sharing Center simply look for Sharing and Discovery, click the arrow next to File sharing, click Turn off file sharing, and then click Apply.
  2. Also for printer sharing repeat the same steps but click the arrow next to Printer sharing, click Turn off printer sharing, and then click Apply.

For Windows XP:

  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Security Center, and then click Windows Firewall.
  3. Click the Exceptions tab, and then, under Programs and Services, clear the File and Printer Sharing check box.

Source Microsoft

Approve Access Points Before You Connect

How do you know that you are going to connect to the right wireless network in the first place? Well that’s easy, you set up your computer to let you know and it through each access point when you connect. For Windows 7 and Windows this done you will be automatically prompted to approve new connections, however with windows XP this is not the case.

To set your preferred networks in windows XP do the following:

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then click Network and Internet Connections.
  2. Under the Pick a Control Panel icon, click Network Connection.
  3. Right-click Wireless Network Connection and then click Properties.
  4. On the Wireless Networks tab, make sure that the Use Windows to configure my wireless network settings check box is selected.
  5. Under Preferred networks, make sure that the name of the network that you want to connect to is highlighted, and then click Advanced.
  6. Click Access point (infrastructure) network only, and then click Close.

Another great tip to protect you from cyber security terrorists is to make sure that you do not store any precious files on a device that you carry into a public area. Sometimes even with the best protection, a good hacker can always gain access if they wish to, therefore you should give them a boring device to explore.