Free Wi-Fi is a nice perk many retailers and restaurateurs offer to lay out the welcome mat to customers in their establishments, but public Wi-Fi networks also attract hackers and cybercriminals. Instead of haphazardly connecting to any internet network that’ll let you hop on for free, think twice and make sure that you’re doing the very most to keep you and your device safe. Whether it’s Wi-Fi at a hotel, on the airplane, at the library or at your favorite restaurant; all public Wi-Fi networks should be treated as if you have someone looking over your shoulder the entire time you’re connected. To take advantage of the free Wi-Fi and stay safe, follow these tips while you’re connected to public Wi-Fi networks.
Use A VPN
Using a VPN while you’re on public Wi-Fi makes it about as safe as it’s going to it. VPNs work by creating a private digital road between your device and the VPN server on the other end. Any data you send or receive while on a VPN is encrypted and unable to be seen by digital peeping toms.
Visit HTTPS Only Sites
At home or away, you should be doing this anyway, but while being connected to public Wi-Fi it is essential to restrict your web surfing to websites with HTTPS or the padlock in the domain bar. Most sites are HTTPS secure these days, but there’s a few sites who haven’t moved over to the new protocol so always make sure your connection to them is HTTPS safe.
Avoid Typing In Passwords
While you’re on public Wi-Fi you should always assume that anyone on that network can see what you’re up to. To keep your online accounts secure, avoid typing in your passwords and use a password manager like LastPass or Dashlane instead. Password managers not only store passwords for you, but they also keep them encrypted so onlookers cannot see them. If you don’t use a password manager or have to type a password in, try to confine it to accounts where you have the two factor authentication set up. This will ensure that even if someone did catch your password, they couldn’t use it without notifying you or bypass it thanks to the second authentication.
Keep Your Devices Updated
Whether you choose to use a public Wi-Fi network or not, it’s so important to keep all of your internet enabled devices up to date with the latest software. The manufacturers of your devices put these updates out for a reason so start taking advantage of them. This includes operating system updates, mobile apps and even any installed software you use. Keeping your software updated ensures that your device will work as it should and patch any security holes that need amending so cybercriminals can’t take advantage of them to get to you.
Avoid Typing In Personal Data
Save serious tasks for at home like paying your bills, checking bank accounts, or using any payment methods while being connected to public Wi-Fi. Again, to be safe you must assume that there’s anyone out there that can be digitally looking over your shoulder at any time while you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network.