We are always looking for that free public WIFI network to connect to in order to save our data, or to save the battery life on our phones, but connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot can out your device and your online data at risk.
Follow these 10 simple steps to stay safe on a public WIFI network
- Always use a VPN: A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is great way for securing your connection on any public Wi-Fi network. It will encrypt your data and makes it difficult for others to intercept.
- If possible, connect to trusted networks only: Connect to networks that you feel you trust, Those provided by hotels or restaurants or your favourite café, and avoid connecting to networks with suspicious or unfamiliar names.
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi for financial transactions: Avoid doing any financial transactions or online shopping on public Wi-Fi networks, these actions require sensitive personal information that could be intercepted by hackers, and if you must, make sure to use a VPN.
- Disable automatic connections: Disable this feature for your device to automatically connect to available Wi-Fi networks. Hackers could setup rogue networks with the same name and your trusted network that your devices will automatically connect to, putting your data at risk.
- Make sure your device is up to date: Ensure your device’s operating system, antivirus software, and other important software are up to date. This will help protect your device from known security threats. Unpatched devices can leave your device vulnerable.
- Disable file sharing: Switch off any file sharing settings on your device when connected to public Wi-Fi networks. This will help prevent others from accessing your files. Only have file sharing enabled when you want to share files.
- Don’t access sensitive information: Avoid accessing your bank accounts or any other sensitive information on a public Wi-Fi network unless you trust that network and have enabled your VPN. If it can wait till you get home or on a secure, private network then do so.
- Two-factor authentication: Enable 2FA on any service that you use that offers it. This is an extra layer of security requiring a second form of identification, such as a code sent to your phone or your email address.
- Be aware of your surroundings: check out who is around you when using public Wi-Fi networks. It’s easy to miss someone looking over your shoulder or attempting to steal your device if you’re not concentrating.
- Always disconnect/log out when finished: Log out of your accounts and disconnect from the Wi-Fi network and make sure it isn’t set to auto connect when you are finished. This will help prevent unauthorised access to your accounts and device.