If You Connect, You Must Protect: Security Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi spots are convenient especially when free. However, there are risks to using these networks. Be sure to use the following security tips when using public wi-fi’s the next time. It can be the difference between safe surfing and identify theft/data-loss.

Are you in a restaurant or hotel and using their complementary Wi-Fi hotspot? Be sure to connect to the correct network. Just like identifying red flags for phishing emails, you want to look for identifiers of suspicion such as incorrect spelling. Are you eating at McDonald’s? Be sure you are connecting to “McDonald’s” Wi-Fi rather than “McDonaldss” Wi-Fi. Subtle spelling errors could be the detriment to your personal information.

Be sure to pick a secure network. A secure network is a network with an added layer of security such as requiring a password. Most times, you will be able to indicate it is a secure network by a lock icon next to the Wi-Fi name. A secured network will have a password that will be given by a hotel front desk or a server at the restaurant you are dining at.

Set the “Ask to Join” Network option in your Settings. When you select this option will be prompted to think twice before connecting to a network, which is a good thing. Sometimes automatically connecting to the fastest internet is not always a good thing. The network can be completely insecure although it is a fast connection.

If at all possible, avoid doing more serious tasks on public Wi-Fi. When you connect to a public Wi-Fi, our suggestion is to NOT sign into accounts such as your credit card or bank. This is probably one of the easiest ways to share your information with the “bad guys” or cyber criminals as they are waiting for these kinds of opportunities to get your information.

Along with our last tip, it is important to avoid using your passwords when using public Wi-Fi networks. The sad reality is that anything you type in a public Wi-Fi can be compromised and passwords are exactly what cyber criminals are looking for. What you CAN do is use a password manager to login to your accounts as the passwords are encrypted (even on mobile apps).

Have any questions regarding this topic or something else in technology or cybersecurity? I would love to hear from you. Email me at Stephen@goleadingit.com.