Article | 1:58 min read

How to Safely Use Public Wi-Fi


Check out these tips on how to safely use public Wi-Fi networks.

Woman using Wi-Fi in a coffee shop

While using free Wi-Fi at coffee shops, shopping malls, airports, hotels, and many other places is convenient, most people can’t tell a secure Wi-Fi network from an unsecure one. Public Wi-Fi can expose users to potential security risks. It is important to take safety precautions to protect your information. While there isn’t much you can do to make public Wi-Fi network more secure, you can do some things to help keep your data secure on public Wi-Fi.

    1. Take precautions when using your accounts

      Don’t stay permanently signed into accounts. When you’ve finished using an account, be sure to log out. Never access your personal or financial information on public Wi-Fi. You should always assume a public Wi-Fi network isn’t secure. Make sure you don’t use the same password on different websites. It could give someone who gains access to one of your accounts access to many of your accounts.

      The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says, if the network isn’t secure, and you log into an unencrypted site — or a site that uses encryption only on the sign-in page — other users on the network can see what you see and send. They could hijack your session and log in as you.
    2. Only log in or send personal information on websites you trust

      To be secure, your entire visit to each website should be encrypted, meaning the URL starts with “https” the entire time you’re on the website. If you think you’re logged into an encrypted site, but find yourself on an unencrypted page, log out right away. According to the FTC, using https does not always mean a website is legit. Scammers know how to encrypt sites, too. They know people assume https means a website is safe — so they’ve started adding it to their websites, as well. Which is why it’s important to consider using a VPN app. Most VPN apps encrypt, or scramble, the data sent between your phone and the VPN server, says the FTC.
    3. Pay attention to warnings

      Many web browsers alert you before you visit an untrustworthy website or download malicious programs. Don’t ignore those warnings. Make sure you are keeping your browser and security software up to date.
    4. Change your device settings

      Adjust your settings so your device doesn’t automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi. That way, you have more control over when and how you use public Wi-Fi.

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