You may love using public Wi-Fi networks, but unfortunately, so do cybercriminals. They can hack devices, get access to your private data, and potentially steal your identity.
Stay Alert – Beware of Public Wi-Fi Scams
The biggest security threat is the ability of hackers to position themselves between you and the Wi-Fi connection point. So instead of talking directly with the hotspot, you're unknowingly sending your information to the hacker.
The first precaution you should take is to make sure your phone or laptop's Wi-Fi settings don't automatically connect to unknown networks. That way, you retain control over the public Wi-Fi networks you choose to use. Keep in mind that scammers can easily create networks with legitimate-sounding names, like "Free Public Wi-Fi," to trick users into joining. When in doubt, ask the staff at the business the exact name of its Wi-Fi network.
Here are additional precautions:
The good news is that the vast majority of hackers will go after easy targets. So taking these precautions should help to keep your information safe.
- Be careful what you do while on public Wi-Fi networks. Avoid banking transactions, online shopping, and visiting any sites requiring you to enter a username and password.
- Consider tethering your laptop to your phone and using your mobile provider's data network instead of public Wi-Fi. You may incur charges, but you'll be more secure.
- Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you're not using them.
- Use antivirus software and keep it up to date.
- Consider signing up for a virtual private network, or VPN. It will encrypt your data, even on unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
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