How to use public internet or Wi-Fi safely in Nepal?
It's a great idea to provide free internet services in important parts of the city and where the service is mostly used. However, people using free Wi-Fi services in Nepal are not aware of what they're probably exposed to or are exposing. Even if it requires a password to log in, this doesn't mean your online activities are safe. If you use public WiFi without enough protection, you're risking your online identity.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City has launched free Wi-Fi hotspots in the major tourist destinations in Kathmandu, since 2018. The major religious tourist areas such as Pashupati, Boudhha, Swayambhu, etc. are running free Wi-Fi service for a long time.
Moreover, in major cities of Nepal, free Wi-Fi is also available in hotels, restaurants, public transport, airports and so on. And, you may have already used the services to some extent.
Either you access free Wi-Fi via smartphones or laptops it's always less secure than a personal one. The reason is you don't know who set it up and who else is connecting to it. But for the times you're connected to it you can still limit the potential risks with the following tips.
There are two types of public WiFi networks: secure and insecure (open). The open network allows you to log in without any authentication (password) details. While logging to a secure network requires you to sign up and enter authentic details. So, if you can't avoid using public Wi-Fi networks, you should at least ensure you're connected to secure and known networks only.
The reason you should connect to a secure network is hackers might be creating fake Wi-Fi hotspots to collect your critical information. So if you can, stick to a few and secure public Wi-Fi networks as possible.
When you're using public WiFi it is a good idea to avoid engaging in things like internet banking, online shopping and any other activities that expose sensitive and financial information. If you're being asked for personal details such as phone number or email address unless you have to, consider using alternative or temporary email address.
Also if you can, avoid filling out a form with details about your bank account, credit card information, etc. while connecting to public WiFi.
Another important thing to consider, do you need to turn on the sharing preferences when connected to public WiFi? If not, turn off the file-sharing options right after you connect to the network. This option is fine if you're connected to a home or office network but must be avoided when joined to the public internet.
Browsing sites with HTTPS protocol assures that browsers send data to the website you're visiting with encryption. While with HTTP your network traffic is more likely to be visible to others on the same network. Some of the popular sites such as Facebook and Gmail use HTTPS protocol to reduce the chances of your private data being exposed to the attackers.
Simply put, over HTTP people on the same WiFi network can access your data (which is shared between browser and server) while over HTTPS it is significantly difficult.
Using a VPN on your device is by far the most effective technique to stay safe on public WiFi. It encrypts all data traffic to and from your device and effectively secures the open WiFi network making it almost impossible for other people on the network to snoop on your activities and details.
You just have to install the VPN client on your laptop or smartphone and follow the given steps to enable it.
No public WiFi is absolutely secure. Either you're aware of the public WiFi safety or not don't assume you're safe while cruising the internet in public places. The best thing to avoid running into security intricacies with public WiFi in Nepal is not to use it at all. However, if you have to consider following this checklist for safety