Security Tips for RV Park Wifi

Security Tips for RV Park Wifi 1

With so many of us sheltering in place and practicing social distancing as we weather this pandemic, we’re turning to the internet for much of our social interaction and entertainment. As you do this, though, please take care to protect the information you share online. We may think we’re being careful with unique passwords, private security settings on social media, and trashing those pesky phishing emails, but we may not all be aware of the risks associated with how we connect to the internet. Below is some helpful information submitted to Escapees Magazine by member Levi Hensley.

Today, cell phones and 4G have made it easier for RVers to connect to the Internet. Unfortunately, data plans have caps, and not all RVers want to pay the higher price of an unlimited plan. Another issue is cell reception or tower availability. My wife, Natalie, and I have been in locations with poor service, so using our phones for the Internet was impossible. In those situations, park WiFi may be the only option.

Park WiFi is notoriously spotty, and the speed varies substantially from park to park, but the most concerning issue with park or public WiFi is the lack of security. Parks that hire professionals to set up their networks can do a decent job of providing security to a network. However, problems can arise at other parks that buy routers and antennas and have a local, self-appointed tech guru set it up.

The Risk of Public Wifi

Security Tips for RV Park Wifi 2

When you are connected to the park’s WiFi system, you are connected to a router. Always keep in mind that everyone else in the park is also connected to that router. This means you are not surfing the web alone in the privacy of your RV. Your computer and any other device you have connected to that network is, in a way, connected to every other person’s computer or device on that router.

Anyone who may want to snoop in on what you’re browsing can simply find their way to your device on that router. The parks that hire a company to set up their system may have a few security measures in place to make it more difficult to find your computer on a network, but that doesn’t make it impossible. 

Many WiFi networks are vulnerable to “man-in-the-middle” attacks. This is where an attacker diverts internet network traffic through their machine before it reaches the router. Once the traffic reaches their machine, they can sort through the information for passwords, usernames and other details. This is of greater concern if you check your bank account, e-mail, Facebook or other social media site. Accessing those sites on a public WiFi can be a security risk.

Protecting Yourself When Using RV Park Wifi

Security Tips for RV Park Wifi 3

The first line of defense is to make sure you use different passwords for every site. That way, if you do get hacked, the attacker only has one of your passwords and not all of them. There are many other ways to minimize risk online, but there are two major ways to prevent someone from accessing your information on a public WiFi in the first place.

Use HTTPS

Make sure you see the lock icon on the left side of your address bar in your browser when inputting personal information on a website. The lock icon, along with “HTTPS” in front of the address, lets you know that you are using the secure version of HTTP. 

Entering information into a site that uses only “HTTP” is sent to the website as plain text. This means anyone who intercepts that information will be able to read it as easily as you are reading this sentence. On the contrary, information sent using HTTPS is encrypted. This means that, even if an attacker intercepts your information, it will appear as gibberish or a series of random letters and numbers. Only the website has the key to decrypt the information you sent.

Use a VPN

A VPN or Virtual Private Network service allows you, the user, to take control of encrypting all of your internet traffic. Basically, it prevents anyone from seeing what you are doing on the Internet. Having a superior VPN is one of the best ways to secure yourself on public WiFi. 

Connecting to a VPN encrypts your Internet traffic in both directions so any information coming in or going out will look like gibberish to an attacker. When you sign up for a VPN, the company will give you a program to install on your computer. This program does all the “heavy lifting” for you by connecting and encrypting your data, providing a secure internet connection. 

To use a VPN, you must first select a service provider. You can find companies that offer the service for free; however, I personally would avoid them. They are generally free because they log your traffic to sell your information to ad companies. 

A few popular VPN companies with high ratings include NordVPN, StrongVPN, ExpressVPN and CyberGhost. When you are shopping for a VPN, it is important to find one that has positive reviews for speed and privacy. I personally use ExpressVPN because of their ease of use and speed. Once I install the app on my phone or computer, all I have to do is press the connect button. In minutes, all of my Internet traffic is private and encrypted whether I’m on park WiFi or using my 4G. 

Connecting to a public WiFi puts your digital security at risk. Regardless, if you are using a VPN or not, make sure that any site that you enter sensitive information into has the lock icon in the address bar and the URL that begins with HTTPS:// and not HTTP://.

Author

Levi Hensley #125245

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) Notification - Escapees RV Club is monitoring the situation closely. For up to date information, please click here.

More Info
X