making it possible to connect your tablet, laptop, phone, or other device in the middle of a national park, at a local bookstore or café, or while waiting for a flight. Whenever you’re connecting in a public venue, remember public Wi-Fi is not secure – even if you’re paying to access it. Norton warned:
“…Wi-Fi uses radio waves. The openness of these signals at public hotspots, combined with the right eavesdropping software, can allow others to take information without your knowledge – much like someone overhearing a private conversation in a crowded restaurant. Don’t assume that a public Wi-Fi network is safe and secure simply because it has a password. Remember, these passwords are shared, so anyone nearby can easily hop onto the network and see what you’re doing.”
Protect yourself with some dos and don’ts of free public Wi-Fi:
- Turn ‘sharing’off. Your computer may be set to ‘share’ files and printers or allow remote login from other computers. Make sure ‘sharing’ is turned off when you are on public Wi-Fi.
- Access only public sites. Check the weather or stock markets. Read the news or your favorite blogs. Avoid sites that require you to login.
- Use a virtual private network or VPN. VPN software may allow you to route all of your activity through a separate and secure private network even when using public Wi-Fi.
- Assume a Wi-Fi option is legitimate. Cyber criminals have been known to set-up connections with names that are similar to the name of wireless offered by the café, hotel, etc. Talk with an employee before accessing Wi-Fi to get the correct name and IP address.
- Access password-protected websites. When you’re on public Wi-Fi, do not log in to password protected email accounts or social media sites; do not enter credit card information; and do not engage in online banking.
Public Wi-Fi is wonderful – as long as you understand the risks and protect your personal information.