As more consumers and businesses alike embrace the on-the-go mentality, finding a public WiFi hotspot is easier now than ever before. While there are plenty of hotspots available – about 362 millionto be exact – remember that not every hotspot is trustworthy. Be sure you’re staying safe while using public WiFiwith the following tips from Computer Troubleshooters North Staffs.
5 Tips for Safely Using Public WiFi
Using public WiFi is a quick and often free way to browse the web without eating away at your data plan, but it’s important to remain mindful when connecting to these networks.
1. Choose Wisely
It’s likely your local coffee shop, supermarket and even your gym has public WiFi available for guests. While hopping on these networks during your visits can often be perfectly safe, be wary when visiting less-established locations. Before choosing a network to connect to, it’s wise to think twice about your location. For example, a public WiFi hotspot is likely safer at an established store such as a Costa Coffee than in a shopping centre with tons of available networks you don’t recognize. It’s true that no public WiFi is completely secure, but choosing wisely and being a little sceptical are always good tips to remember.
2. Limit Your Actions Online
After you’ve found a trustworthy network, be mindful about what you do once you’re browsing the web. Checking your social media or reading news articles are generally safe activities, but you should never access your bank account or other personal information in public. If the network you choose is not as secure as you presumed, your most private information could be left vulnerable to a cyberattack.
3. Visit Secure Sites
While you’re using public WiFi, it’s also a great practice to make sure you’re only visiting sites with encrypted connections. An encrypted connection is more secure than an unencrypted page and makes spying on your web activity much more difficult for potential hackers. To easily spot an encrypted site, check for, “HTTPS://” before any link in the URL search bar. Secure sites are often also indicated by a padlock. An unencrypted site can be identified by displaying, “HTTP://” before the following URL.
The latest versions of some of the most popular browsers, such as Chrome, can help you out here. They have started to warn you when you connect to a site that is not using HTTPS.
4. Disable Auto Connect
For convenience purposes, our smart phones come with many automated features. However, users often don’t realise all of the data that’s being shared without their knowledge. To avoid automatically connecting to a WiFi network, and perhaps an unsecure one, disable the auto connect feature on your device. If you’d like to disable connecting to a specific network altogether, tap the network on your device and select, “Forget This Network.”
Similar features exist on most laptops. For example, on Windows, 10 when first connecting to a new public WiFi network, uncheck the “Connect automatically” option.
5. Use a VPN
One of the best ways to protect yourself online, both on public WiFi and your private network, is to utilise a virtual private network (VPN). When using a VPN, your traffic is routed through an encrypted channel owned by the VPN company. With your traffic protected, outsiders attempting to spy on your online activity won’t be able to access your location and other private details about your browsing. With the added security of a VPN, potential hackers will have a much harder time tracking your online movements and stealing your information. To learn more benefits of a VPN and how to pick the best one for you, visit PCMag.
One of the goals of these tips was to help keep you safe when you are using public WiFi to save using your mobile phone plan data. But the mobile phone companies keep adding more and more data to their plans and they have started allowing it to be used for both your phone and your other computers. If you already have loads of data on your plan, why not use it for your smart phone and for your laptop. Look for options to tether your phone to your PC. I posted this whilst on holiday. And instead of using public Wifi I used my phone’s data and stayed completely secure whilst logging on to edit the website.
When it comes to using public WiFi, you can never be too cautious. Consider following these tips for more security or consult with Computer Troubleshooters North Staffsfor additional cybersecurity practices.