With public Wi-Fi hotspots found everywhere – in coffee shops, hotels and airports – you can find plenty of places to log onto the Internet with your laptop or mobile device. But this free access doesn’t necessarily come without a price.
Along with convenience, public Wi-Fi hotspots can also provide an easy way for identity thieves and cybercriminals to track what you’re doing online, and steal your logins or personal information. How so? Wi-Fi uses radio waves. The openness of these signals at public hotspots, combined with the right eavesdropping devices and 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.
Tips To Use In Public
1. Watch what sites you visit. Hold off on visiting any sites that require you to log in with a username and password, like your bank or other financial institutions, social networking sites or webmail. Play it safe. Don’t access these types of websites and information on a public wi-fi. Save visiting such sites until you’re on a secure, private network.
2. Be aware of your surroundings. As you have your laptop open in a coffee shop, hotel lobby or airport, someone may be secretly observing. Take a few moments to make sure no “shoulder surfers” are watching what you type.
3. Use a VPN (virtual private network). VPNs create a network-within-a-network solution to keep everything you do on public Wi-Fi private. Even on a password-protected network, people can still intercept the signal.