It’s easier than ever to find an internet connection when you’re running errands, getting coffee, shopping or spending the night at a hotel or bed & breakfast. Unfortunately, these public Wi-Fi hot-spots are not 100% secure and not every person you pass has good intentions. Stay safe and keep your information secure while using public Wi-Fi with these quick safety tips.
Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Safely
1. Connect Wisely
It’s very common for your favorite coffee shops, markets, and gyms to offer a free Wi-Fi connection, but no public Wi-Fi access point is completely secure. Thankfully, businesses that are more established are more likely to invest in security measures to protect their customers. On the other hand, less established companies may use far less expensive and much less secure Wi-Fi systems. Before you connect, think about where you’re at and double-check that the network you’re connecting to is the official one for that business.
Just use common sense, it should always be your first step to protect yourself.
2. Disable Auto Connect
Most connected devices have built-in features to automatically connect to the nearest wireless hot-spot. The downside is it’s harder for users to know when their information is being shared because auto-connect features don’t notify you when a connection is made. It’s best to disable the feature on your device to avoid accidentally connecting to unsecured networks. You can also prevent auto-connecting to a specific network by clicking the network name and selecting “Forget This Network”.
3. Turn Off File Sharing
File sharing is great for work and at home when you’ve got multiple secured devices in one area. It’s not good when in a public space as some people may use the opportunity to connect with your device and take your information. Be sure to turn off file sharing features when you’re not at home, work, or anytime you’re not using them.
4. Enable Firewall
Enable your firewall. Doing so will let your computer automatically filter out unwanted attempts to connect to your computer.
5. Use Secure Websites/Apps
Remember, using a secure connection doesn’t mean every website or application online is also secure. Only visit websites that are encrypted. In your internet browser, the left side of the URL search bar will show a lock icon if the site is secured properly. If not, then you’ll see a warning icon and be redirected to a page advising you of the unsecure site. Secured website URLs begin with “https://”, unsecured sites don’t have the “s” and look like “http://”.
6. Limit What You Do Online While Connected
You wouldn’t shout your email password at the coffee counter. So don’t show everyone sitting next to you things they shouldn’t see. When you’re connected to public Wi-Fi don’t access your bank account. You really shouldn’t work on anything that shows your social security number, address, phone number, credit card information, etc.
7. Use A VPN
A VPN, or virtual private network is a special connection that makes your online activity and traffic anonymous to the Wi-Fi network. There are many options when choosing a VPN, so if you’re unsure which is best for you, contact FriendlyPC and we’ll work with you to find one and help you set it up correctly.
8. Turn Off Wi-Fi When Not In Use
As soon as you’ve finished working or surfing the net, turn off your Wi-Fi. We know those few clicks can seem like a hassle but it’s better you don’t let convenience be an opportunity for your information to be stolen and your security endangered.
Staying safe when connecting to the internet doesn’t stop at the door of a coffee shop. You probably have a personal Wi-Fi connection at home, follow our 8 security tips to protect your home Wi-Fi too!