How to Stay Safe When Using Public Wi-Fi Networks

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Everybody loves public Wi-Fi networks. Whether you’re sitting down with a coffee in your hand or waiting for a plane to arrive, seeing free Wi-Fi networks pop up on your phone or laptop is a great way to make an afternoon more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, Wi-Fi networks are not always as safe as they may seem. Sometimes, hackers monitor these networks in order to dupe people into giving out personal information online. Other times, hackers create these networks in areas where they know people will be accessing the internet. For these reasons, you need to know how to protect yourself when using a Wi-Fi connection. Today, we’re going to teach you a few easy ways to do just that.

Use HTTPS instead of HTTP

The most important thing to do whenever you connect to a Wi-Fi network is to use HTTPS instead of HTTP. What do those acronyms mean? Well, HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, and the extra ‘s’ in HTTPS stands for Secured.

Today, many banking and social media websites offer secured versions of their site. Found by typing in https:// instead of http://, the secured version creates an encrypted connection that prevents any wandering eyes from monitoring your activity online. While doing online banking at your local Starbucks may not be a good idea, many people like to check Facebook or Twitter when using public Wi-Fi networks. If you don’t see “https” in front of either of these websites, then entering your login information could be risky.

Put simply, when using https, anybody who may be monitoring the public Wi-Fi network is unable to see what you’re doing online. They can’t see the password and username that you’re putting in, nor can they see your password, PIN, or any other sensitive information. If you always use https, then your identity will be much safer.

Disable your laptop or phone’s Wi-Fi when you’re not using it

If you’re walking around town during the day, you may encounter hundreds of different Wi-Fi networks. Depending on the settings on your laptop or phone, it may automatically try to connect to any networks that are unsecured. If a hacker has set up an open Wi-Fi network as a data mining trap, then your information is at risk of being stolen.

To prevent this from happening to you, be sure to disable Wi-Fi whenever you’re not using it. This can easily be done by flicking a switch along the case of your laptop, or by changing the connection settings of your phone.

Stay away from tempting networks

If somebody is trying to lure you into using their network, do you think they’re going to call that network “Data stealing network – free Wi-Fi”? Of course they wouldn’t! Instead, they’re going to disguise it as an innocuous, non-threatening network. Something like “Free Public Internet” might sound perfect for you, but it may also be too good to be true. Put simply, whenever somebody sets up a wireless network, they are expecting something in return. If you can’t figure out which wireless network is connected to which local business, then you should probably avoid it just to be safe.

 

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