OZLAN Technical Services

Dangers of FREE Public Wi-Fi

Public Free WiFi Hotspots are becoming very popular and often trendy for business’s to offer them. Be aware of the ongoing danger in using them and many of the common pitfalls that can trap you and pilfer you personal information.
As a rule I personally NEVER connect to public wifi hotspots, my mobile devices are always tethered to a private VPN network protecting me and my clients, personal information. A far better alternative to using public open wifi hotspots is to provide your own hotspot and these are becoming a much better alternative and affordable option for the road warrior.
For those that persist on using free public wifi hotspots, there are some simple rules to adhere to protect yourself and your information.
  • Turn off “File and Printer Sharing“.
  • Turn off all “Folder Sharing“.
  • Enable firewall, if it isn’t already.
  • Choose the correct wifi network (beware of false ones created by hackers). Its very common for hackers to create their own free hotspot mimicking the legitimate network offered by a business, particularly in airports. If unsure, ask the staff to verify the Network Name (SSID) or look for a poster or advertisement stating the SSID.
  • Use https wherever possible, or better still, connect via a VPN,
  • If using windows, make sure to select “Public Network” when joining.
  • Disable wifi when not in use.
  • Keep your system up to date (Windows Updates and all other software, in particular, Adobe products and Java).
  • Protect your passwords (On a Windows computer never use browser remembered passwords, these can be easily obtained from the registry).
  • Never do anything financial (paying bills, checking your bank balance or stock trading).
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, Be aware that you are NEVER secure (did you read the fine print?). The fine print most often claims to openly monitor all information passed through the public network and often openly claims to share this information with 3rd parties.

OS X Mavericks Wireless Diagnostics

Option Click on the Wi-Fi icon in menu bar > Open Wireless Diagnostics
Under 'Window' in the menu bar, go to the 'Utilities' option.
'Wi-Fi Scan, tab > 'Scan Now'
Connection Problems
Fix #1- Add a new network & renew DHCP.
System Preferences > Network
Under 'Location' drop down choose 'Edit Locations' > + > Give it a NAME > Done > Apply.
Join network if not already joined.
Network > Advanced > TCP/IP tab > make sure 'Configure IPv4' is using DHCP.
'Renew DHCP Lease' > APPLY > Click OK and close System Preferences.
Fix #2- Change MTU Size to Prevent Dropped Connections.
System Preferences > Network > Advanced > 'Hardware' tab
Pull down the 'Configure' drop down and change from 'Automatically' to 'Manually'.
Change 'MTU' to 'Custom' and set to '1453'
Click 'OK' and close System Preferences.

Last Resort
Fix Stubborn Wi-Fi Problems by Deleting Preference Files
Pull down Wi-Fi menu and turn Wi-Fi off.
From any Finder windows, hit Command+Shift+G to bring up 'Go To Folder' and enter the following path:
/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/
Locate the following files and copy them to the desktop for a backup, then delete them from the /SystemConfiguration/ folder:
com.apple.airport.preferences.plist
com.apple.network.identification.plist
NetworkInterfaces.plist
preferences.plist
Empty the Trash and reboot the Mac.
Turn Wi-Fi back on from the Wi-Fi menu and join you preferred network as usual.