Hands up who uses free public Wi-Fi when out and about?
We do, we love a freebie!
However, public Wi-Fi is not always the most secure option. Of course, it’s great to be able to get online and not use our data, but if you’re taking your laptop to your local coffee shop, you need to be aware of the risks.
Whether you’re on a laptop, phone or tablet, the risk is still the same. You don’t know who has set up the network, or who else is using it.
Hackers also love free Wi-Fi, because it gives them a brilliant opportunity to pry on you and snoop in on your connection – that’s all the data you share over the network by the way; your login details, bank information, information, photos, whatever you share using the Wi-Fi hotspot.
On top of this, people set up fake hotspots. If you’re unsure whether the network is genuine, don’t use it or check with a member of staff in the coffee shop or wherever you’re trying to connect.
We’ve rounded up our best advice to help you stay safe online when you’re not at home.
How can you stay secure on public Wi-Fi networks?
Limit your use of public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Only use them if you must. Use your mobile data primarily and public Wi-Fi if you run out!
Turn off automatic connection.
Make sure you turn your Wi-Fi on and off every time you use public hotspots, or you could be getting hacked without knowing.
Know which networks to trust.
Stick to well-known, trusted networks, such as Starbucks or Costa, as there’s less chance of a security risk. If in doubt, ask a staff member about the correct hotspot.
Use a VPN.
If you use public Wi-Fi a lot, consider using a Virtual Private Network. This handy bit of tech encrypts your data, making it harder to be hacked or for others to see what you’re doing. Do some research beforehand though, as some services are superior to others.
Stick with HTTPS.
Watch out for the little ‘S’ in the HTTP part of URLs. There should also be a green padlock to certify the website is secure.
Install as many security features as possible.
Two-factor authentication, antivirus and firewalls – use them to boost your security when browsing online. Remember to make sure they’re updated regularly.
Don’t use personal, sensitive accounts when on public Wi-Fi.
Avoid using websites that require sensitive information, such as personal banking. Social media and email should be kept to a minimum, as well as any websites that you store personal details on.
‘Forget network’ after you log out.
It’s almost like shutting the door fully instead of leaving it ajar. It will reappear if you choose to use that network again in the future, you’ll just have to re-enter the password.
Public Wi-Fi is a lifesaver, especially for freelancers and small businesses regularly work in coffee shops. But, you need to be cautious and take these steps to avoid getting hacked. Think about your location and the websites you’re using, and always keep your security tools updated. You never know who could be watching.
If you need any more advice on how to stay secure online, please get in touch with a member of our team.