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Remember These 5 WIFI Safety Tips While Using Your Smartphone!
Outsmart cyber criminals and hackers by staying smart when you connect to WIFI on your smartphone!
With the release of Apple’s new iPhone 13, we thought now would be a good time to review some important smartphone WIFI safety tips! While we live in a world that is full of exciting technology that adds convenience and luxury to our lives, we also have to contend with hackers and cybercriminals who harbor malicious intentions who have access to the same improving technology we do. As our technology improves, these hackers find new ways to invade our software in order to steal our data or try to get easy money. Taking these 5 steps while using your phone’s WIFI abilities will help ward off hackers and cyber criminals, allowing you to enjoy all of your smartphone’s functions without needing to worry about your own security.
Don’t auto-join WIFI networks.
While Apple’s iPhones are some of the safest and high tech smartphones on the market, it doesn’t mean they are immune from all cyber attacks. Recently, Apple had to release an update for its iPhones that stopped the devices from “joining a malicious WIFI network [that] may result in a denial of service or arbitrary code execution.” Essentially, hackers were able to mimic reputable WIFI networks that the iPhones would auto join. Once the phone was connected to this false WIFI, the hackers could hijack the phone to affect its functionality or infect it with dangerous malware.
Apple’s update, which is IOS 14.7.1 helps make iPhones significantly less vulnerable to these attacks, but that doesn’t mean your phone is entirely protected. If you have an iPhone, the default setting is likely to auto-join WIFI networks it detects. However, we recommend turning off this setting for good. Since public WIFI networks are open and so accessible, it makes them easy targets for hackers to spoof. Therefore, you should avoid joining public WIFI hotspots whenever possible, and you definitely don’t want your phone auto-joining without your knowledge. If you do have to use the public WIFI, logon through a reliable VPN to ensure your phone and information stays protected.
Be careful when using public WIFI.
Although using a VPN can help make you safer, it’s always smart to limit your activity while using public WIFI. If your phone has been hacked through a bad Wifi connection, someone could be watching your activities and waiting for the right moment to hijack your device. Therefore, it’s best to avoid logging into important emails or accessing banking information in public to help keep this information secure. Keep your phone use to a minimum until you have access to a trusted WIFI source, such as a password protected connection at your home or office.
Keep your phone clean.
When we say keep your phone clean, we’re not talking about sanitizing or cleaning the device with soap and water. We mean keep your smartphone’s security software up to date across websites, apps, and internet browsers to protect your phone against viruses, malware, and other online threats. If your phone’s operating system releases an update, you typically don’t want to wait to let the update take effect as the updates usually contain modifications to fix bugs and keep your phone protected. In addition, it’s a good security practice to delete apps you no longer use. Not only does it free up storage space on your phone, but it prevents these unused apps from storing or harvesting your data while you are unaware.
Verify the WIFI before you connect.
When connecting to a public WIFI network, you may notice that the same place seems to have multiple WIFI networks with very similar names. While most people simply connect to the strongest WIFI, it’s best to take the time to verify because you could be walking into a trap set by hackers trying to mimic the public Wifi. Most establishments these days will post their WIFI name for you to easily see, but you can always check with an employee before connecting.
If you really aren’t sure if the WIFI is safe or not, you can always use your phone as a hotspot. In your settings, you will be able to select an option that makes your phone a usable hotspot for yourself and others you approve. It may not be the fastest connection, but it will be safe and secure. Alternatively, you can keep a cellular hotspot with you, which is a particularly good idea if you will be traveling a lot in the near future. These freestanding hot spots are small enough to fit in a purse or briefcase, and are typically battery powered.
Turn off this hidden location setting.
This final tip is more about protecting your privacy than WIFI safety. However, we wanted to include it because being safe when using WIFI also protects your data and information, which you may want to keep private. Any Google Apps you use may be storing a timeline of your location history across its sites, apps, and services. On Android smartphones, Google now has an insights tab that has started to appear on Google Maps that tells you where you have been and what routes you may have taken based on your location history. This feature hasn’t appeared on iPhones yet, but it is likely coming soon.
Even if you disable location tracking in your Google account, other Google apps or sites may still be able to track your location. Therefore, you will need to disable location tracking in your phone settings and may want to consider using Google apps in incognito mode. In incognito mode, Google won’t be able to connect your data with your personal device which prevents data harvesting. If you like having access to the timeline to review your location history on demand, we at least suggest making use of Google’s rolling delete feature so the company can’t store your data forever.
If you want nothing to do with location tracking whatsoever, there is one secretive feature on the iPhone that will make your wish come true. In your settings app, you will need to go to the privacy category, select locations services, and then click system services. Under system services, you will see a clickable option called significant locations. Click this option and switch significant locations to off. Disabling this setting prevents Apple devices from tracking your location history to determine which places hold significance for you and prevents your data from being used in data harvesting.