How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi

public wifi safety

Public Wi-Fi connections provide free access to the internet, allowing you to stay connected while away from home. However, using public Wi-Fi can be risky, as any personal details and sensitive information sent over an unsecured wireless connection could be intercepted by other people using the same network. If you intend to use public Wi-Fi connections, there are a few precautions you should take to keep your device and data safe.

Keep Updated

Software updates provide the newest patches to protect against security threats, so it’s crucial to keep your operating system, software and apps up to date. Ideally, you should be using the auto-update option on all computers and devices with internet access. Elevated Technologies provides IT management of mobile devices along with laptops, desktops, servers, etc.

Install Security Software

A firewall is essential for all computers, but a good all-around security system should also protect against viruses and spyware. For mobile phones and other devices, there are many free security apps available from reputable companies, such as McAfee, AVG and Avast.

Tweak Your Settings

Turn off file and printer sharing before connecting to public Wi-Fi. Most computers will do this automatically if you set up the Wi-Fi connection as a public network. Most mobile phones, tablets and other devices also offer extra protection for public Wi-Fi connections, but these security options vary greatly from one device to the next.

Add Extensions and Privacy Apps

Browser extensions like AdBlock Plus, Ghostery and Privacy Badger can help to protect privacy and keep your data secure. For mobile phones and other devices, Ghostery Privacy Browser and Firefox Focus offer enhanced privacy protection when browsing the internet.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) enables you to route all of your online activities through a private and secure network. The easiest way to set up a VPN is by using a service, such as IPVanish, TunnelBear or ExpressVPN. You can also set up your own VPN, but this can be complicated, so it’s important to do plenty of research before attempting to create your own private network.  Let us assist with setting us your secure company VPN for traveling devices!

Use Extra Security Measures

Many websites now use secure connections (HTTPS), but some older websites still use unsecured connections (HTTP), so it’s important to look at the address bar to make sure that you are accessing a secure website, especially if you intend to enter sensitive information, such as usernames or passwords. Whenever possible, use two-step security settings for your email and other personal accounts, as this will provide an extra layer of protection.

Public Wi-Fi is a convenient and free way to access your online accounts, but it also leaves your data vulnerable to hackers. Taking a few precautions will help to secure your computer and devices, but you still need to be careful when entering sensitive information. In particular, you should avoid accessing your bank, credit card or other financial accounts through public Wi-Fi.  Contact Us Today for a no-cost IT Security Assessment of your IT Network and Devices!


Watson Has a New Job


You may or may not have heard of Watson by IBM. In case you haven’t heard of it, IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. Basically, it can be asked questions and will give back answers. The way it works is it [Watson] analyzes unstructured data to present an answer or solution. Watson is able to understand complex questions, grammar and context, and will evaluate all of the possible meanings to determine what is being asked. A question is submitted to Watson, it then searches millions of documents, collects evidence using a scoring algorithm that rates the quality of the evidence. Once this is done, it ranks the possible answers based on the score of the evidence. Finally, it gives you an answer or solution to your question. Sound complicated? It kind of is. However, it is put to good use. It is currently being used in work to battle cancer and cybercriminals, but Watson just landed a new job with Macy’s. It will be called Macy’s On-Call. Since most people have their smartphone with them while shopping, Macy’s is taking advantage of this to improve their customer’s experience. Macy’s On-Call will give shoppers the ability to ask Watson questions regarding a store’s products, services, and facilities by typing in their question. The question will be delivered through location-based software Satisfi, who is an IBM partner, which will access Watson from the cloud. The cool part? It is customized to each individual store. You can ask “where are the shoes?” or “INC dresses.” It will give you specific directions on where that item is located or more information about an item. Macy’s On-Call will use machine learning which evolves over time, so the more you use it, the more it learns about what you want/like/need. The long term goal is to integrate it into the Macy’s app. Technology that makes shopping easier is always a good idea.


Battle of the Virtual Assistants

In the world of virtual assistants, Siri has been here since the beginning. Google followed suit shortly with their VA known as Google Now. Late to the party but catching up is the Microsoft version known as Cortana. Both are virtual assistants that are voice activated and hands free. These VAs use what is called an artificial intelligence algorithm. The way the algorithm works is the more you use it, the better is gets to know you. The better it gets to know you, the more helpful the VA actually is. The real breakthrough, however, is not in their voice recognition capabilities, but their ability to understand things in context and respond in a conversational manner. All of these companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development with the goal of making these assistants speak and respond in a more conversational manner and with greater accuracy around content and context. An experiment was done to evaluate how Siri, Google Now, and Cortana would perform. On factual items like “What is the weather like today,” all three showed an image of the weather forecast. When asking about making reservations, Siri and Cortana showed a list of restaurants in a half-mile radius. Google Now, however, opened the Open Table reservation app with the reservation form already filled out. Now for the ratings on the good stuff: jokes. When quoted the famous line from “2001: A Space Odyssey” in which astronaut Dave Bowman tells the ship’s computer: “Open the pod bay doors.” Cortana responds with the right answer: “I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Siri’s response was better: “Doesn’t anybody knock anymore?” Google Now responded by giving links that showed clips from the movie. Overall, the three services are good on factual questions. No matter which one you use, you are sure to be informed and entertained.