The Library's WPA-enabled WiFi provides an additional layer of security to your online browsing. However, it does not replace end-to-end HTTPS encryption in the browser or in apps. If you're at the Library, do the following on your phone, tablet, or laptop to access the WPA-enabled WiFi:
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is an online privacy and security standard. When a website supports HTTPS connections, it protects your data which is sent between your browser and the website from being seen by others.
The best case scenario is to always use HTTPS and WPA-enabled WiFi when using your tablet, phone, or laptop in public places like the Library. Most popular websites like Facebook, Amazon, and Google use HTTPS by default.
The easiest way to make sure you are always using https is to install HTTPS Everywhere on your laptop’s browser. This will make sure websites, which support HTTPS, use this secure setting if it is available.
If you are going to be logging into a website on your personal device with a username and password, you should use our WPA-enabled WiFi network. If you're at the Library, do the following on your phone, tablet, or laptop:
When your online traffic is encrypted, it makes it very difficult for others to steal your information. Your usernames, passwords, and other private information is scrambled so it looks like nonsense to anyone else. If a website is not using HTTPS, your personal information is sent over the web in plain text so that anyone can see that your password is "ilovedogs." With HTTPS, other people would see just a random string like AL38^(klndksa9985t0i#$. This text could not be used to log onto a website since it is not your real password.
Two easy-to-implement things you can do is to use a password manager and two-factor authentication on websites you visit.
Most people tend to use just a few passwords which they use for their various online accounts. While this may be easy for you to remember, your privacy can be compromised if one of the sites you visit is hacked. In that case, the password you use on that site may be a password you use on numerous other sites. The hackers can then log into any other site which you use the same login information (e.g. email address and password).
A password manager helps protect your privacy by generating a strong and unique password for every website you log into. There are a variety of password manager options which are either free or available as a subscription service. Read this How to Geek article for more details on how to get started with using password managers.
Two-factor authentication requires someone to have more than just your username and password to log into a website. The would-be hacker must also have access to your phone. When someone tries to log into a website account which has two-factor authentication enabled, they are asked to provide an additional code from your phone. Many popular websites like Google, Twitter, and Facebook offer two-factor authentication.
In most cases, you are texted a short code or you have an authentication app on your phone which you open and it will show you a code. You then enter the code into the website to finish logging in. This method adds an additional layer of complexity, but is very helpful in protecting your website accounts!
Use a web search engine to look for the name of your website and two-factor authentication. For example: Facebook two-factor authentication. View a list of sites which offer two-factor authentication.