Smartphones have become the primary method of communication, payments, getting information and much more, which has made free WiFi extremely valuable. Now that a large percentage of the world is working from home, taking your laptop or tablet to that nice coffee shop for the day is surely tempting. The problem is, public WiFi is not always safe to use.
Problem: Public WiFi is nothing if not convenient. It allows us to work from airports, coffee shops, hotels, libraries etc., but most of the time public WiFi is not safe to use. Since most public Wifi networks aren’t secure, any information you send over a public network through websites or apps might become visible to others, making your private information vulnerable to theft. Hackers can also login under your information and impersonate you in order to scam people in your contact list, not to mention you’re probably sharing information with the company providing the WiFi. The list goes on, but don’t worry, you don’t have to quit cold turkey. There are several ways to use public WiFi safely.
Solution: One way to protect your information on public WiFi is to encrypt your data, and you can do this three different ways.
- Make sure your connection to a website is secure. Any web address with https at the front is secure; if the https is not there the website may not be legitimate.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) app. Most VPNs offer encryption and can help you keep your data safe.
- Use your mobile data. Doing so usually means that your information is automatically encrypted.
Another way to protect your data on public WiFi is to practice caution and always be alert for websites that aren’t secure. It’s always safe to assume that any public WiFi network is not secure, so make sure not to access any personal or financial information. Consider only using websites that you know are encrypted, and keep an eye out for the https in URLs. It’s also a good idea not to stay permanently logged in to accounts or use the same passwords for different websites.
Most of us are guilty of automatically connecting to nearby WiFi, however, switching off the “automatically connect” feature in device settings will help prevent your device from connecting to unsafe networks. Another precaution to take is installing browser add-ons or plug-ins, which force browsers to add encryption on popular websites. However, they won’t protect against every website, so it’s important to always double check.
In this day and age online privacy is just as important as any other. The more technology advances, the more methods hackers can use to access your personal information. It’s more crucial than ever to protect your data, and you can do so by taking the necessary precautions, and always making sure you are on a secure network or visiting secure websites.