With airports, hotels, restaurants, theaters, coffee shops, and doctors offices now offering free Wi-Fi access to visitors, using your tech to stay connected while on the go is easier than ever. While it is convenient, there is one thing you need to keep in mind while using these open networks: security. Public Wi-Fi networks don’t always have high levels of protection and cybercriminals are taking particular advantage of this. To keep your data safe, look at these tips.
Know your network. A common technique hackers use is to set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots with names like the real ones in order to trick users into using their fake network. Before you connect to a public network, make sure the name is spelled right, looks legitimate, and ask an employee if you’re not sure.
Limit what you access. Public networks are great for doing things like catching up on social media, but we wouldn’t recommend using them for much more. Viewing your online accounts that are password protected or online shopping that requires you to enter a credit card number are things that should be done on a trusted home network.
Stick with HTTPS. A quick tip to stay safe on public Wi-Fi is to only browse websites that start with “https” instead of “http”. The “s” stands for secure. In essence, that means that these websites offer an extra layer of security to keep your data invisible from snooping hackers.
Don’t give away too much info. Be wary of signing up for public Wi-Fi access if you’re getting asked for a lot of personal details, such as your email address or phone number. If you have to connect to networks like this, stick to using it from places you trust and consider using an alternative email address that isn’t your primary one.
Check what you’re signing up for. It may take a bit of time, but scan through the attached terms and conditions before you connect yourself to a public Wi-Fi connection. You might not understand every word, but you should be able to spot major red flags, especially around what kind of data they’re collecting from your session and what they’re doing with it.
Use a VPN (virtual private network). By using a VPN when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, you’ll effectively be using a ‘private tunnel’ that encrypts all of your data that passes through the network. This method can help to prevent cybercriminals from intercepting your data.