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One mistake people make using public Wi-Fi that lets everyone see their files

Are you always on the hunt for open public hotspots to save on data costs? Or perhaps you’re on vacation and piggybacking on your hotel’s Wi-Fi network. While these publicly accessible Wi-Fi networks can be lifesavers when you’re in a pinch, they do come with their own share of huge privacy and security risks.

If you have been following for a while now, you’re probably aware that crooks have various ways of exploiting public Wi-Fi networks to steal your data.

One way to boost your online security while on a public Wi-Fi network is to use a browser VPN to hide your internet tracks from would-be snoops. But this only takes care of one side of the security equation – your web activity.

The thing is, aside from snoopers monitoring your web traffic, there’s this other vital setting you should check before connecting to a public or hotel Wi-Fi network. You may not be aware of it but having it on the wrong setting can potentially expose your sensitive files to hackers, crooks and strangers.

File Sharing

File and folder sharing may be useful and convenient when you are on your own secure network but on a public Wi-Fi, it is a big security risk. If you have it turned on, all your shared folders and files may be accessible to everyone else who’s connected to the same public network.

It’s similar to an office network where shared folders are viewable by all your co-workers. That’s basically how it works.

In fact, you don’t have to be a hacker to take advantage of shared folders. Anyone who looks around their network folders can instantly search for anyone who doesn’t know how important their security can be.

It works the other way around too. An attacker can also set up a shared folder with malicious files and your computer may get infected if you’re curious enough to click on them.

So if you don’t want to take any chances and to ensure the privacy of your files and the security of your computer, check this important setting before you connect to a public Wi-Fi spot. Don’t make the mistake of leaving it on.

Turn off file sharing

To turn off File Sharing on a Windows machine:

1. Search for “Control Panel” then click on the best match to open it.

2. Under “Network and Internet,” click on “View network status and tasks.

3. On the next page, click “Change advanced sharing settings.

4. Under “File and printer sharing,” tick off “Turn off file and printer sharing.

5. To prevent network snoopers from seeing your computer, tick off “Turn off network discovery” too.

6. Save changes.

To turn off File Sharing on a Mac:

1. Open your Mac’s System Preferences (the gear icon on your dock).

2. Click on the “Sharing” icon.

3. On the next “Sharing Page,” uncheck File Sharing.

4. It is also recommended that you uncheck all the other sharing services here when connecting to public Wi-Fi.

5. Close the window and you’re set.

Note: If you rely on shared folders and files when you’re connected to your office or home network, make sure you turn File Sharing back on when you’re off public Wi-Fi.

More tips you can’t miss:

3 ways to keep your kids safe online

How to see if your computer needs a security patch

Test your firewall to make sure it’s working

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