Nowadays, there is almost no coffee shop, restaurant, or public library that does not offer public Wi-Fi for its clients to check their emails, post on Instagram or browse for things on the Internet. While this is mostly perceived as good customer service, public Wi-Fi can also possess a series of security risks that you are being exposed to, every time you connect your device. Fortunately, with a bit of prevention and limitation, you can safely browse the web while sipping a cup of coffee in your lunch break. With that being said:
You should always…
…connect to secured public networks
There are two types of public networks that you can connect to: unsecured and secured. Secured public networks require a password to login, while unsecured ones are available for anyone to connect to. When you are not using a secured network, you expose your data to anyone that knows a bit of coding.
…stick with HTTPS
HTTPS websites have an encrypted connection, meaning nobody can peak through the data that is being shared between you and the server. When you are visiting a website that has an HTTP connection, it makes it easier for bad-intentioned people to see what you are doing.
…use a VPN
A virtual private network is your number one solution to combat the safety hazards of public Wi-Fi. By using a VPN, you can browse safely, knowing nobody can access your private information and you get to maintain your online anonymity.
You should never…
…allow your device to auto-connect to Wi-Fis
You carry your phone with you all the time, which means that, even without knowing, your device can connect to an unsecured public Wi-Fi, and expose your data to people who are fishing for it. Turn off auto-connect, and only ensure you are connecting your device to trusted networks.
…access sensitive data
If you are not using a VPN, you should keep away from websites or apps that use sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, address or phone number. eCommerce apps are the number one target for people who are looking to steal your data.
…leave Fire Sharing functions on
Make sure to disconnect all features that allow you to share files with other devices, such as AirDrop or Bluetooth. This way, no one can send you files you don’t want, or get access to your files. Simply go to your device and turn off those features. You can turn them back on whenever you need to use them.
Public Wi-Fis can save your life, especially in areas where the signal is poor and mobile data is a pain to use. But connecting to unsecured networks can have its downfalls, which often include your data being exposed to some bad-intentioned people. The best way to keep your data secure is to never use public Wi-Fi, but that would kind of defeat its purpose, right? Keep in mind the tips above the next time you want to use Starbucks’ free Wi-Fi, and you should be out of trouble.
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