How to stay safe on free public Wi-Fi networks

We live in a digital day and age today where just about everyone has some sort of electronic gadget on their person at all times. Whether it’s a smartphone, laptop, tablet, MP3 player, etc., most of us have some kind of device with us that allows us to use the internet at some point throughout the day.

We are all constantly on our internet enabled devices surfing websites, social networking, using apps, playing games, or many other internet required activities, so it seems like these NYC officials are on the right track as far as internet and Wi-Fi are concerned. While these officials are on the right track, all public Wi-Fi is not safe; and there are things users should be aware of, as well as things they can do to better secure themselves while using free Wi-Fi.

Computer Network Settings

Before connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, it is recommended that users check their network settings. Here, users can allow or block incoming connections and can change settings to be notified anytime the firewall blocks anything particular.

Avoid Financial/sensitive websites

It is recommended not to visit online banking institutions or personally sensitive websites on public Wi-Fi networks. This may be easier said than done, but if at all possible, try to only visit sites with personal and/or financial information at home or on a more secured and trusted network. In the occurrence that you do have to enter any credit card information on a public Wi-Fi network, make sure there is a locked padlock icon in the corner of the browser before entering; and make sure to only use websites starting with “HTTPS:” to indicate a secure connection.

Ensure Software is Updated

Before attempting to connect to public Wi-Fi networks, all users should have an antivirus and/or malware program installed on their device (well, it is recommended for everyone to have one whether using public Wi-Fi or not). Installing spy software is just a few clicks away. Keeping antivirus and malware protection software up to date is very important, and don’t forget about keeping the operating system updated as well. These updates do more than just keep your device running smoothly, they also patch holes such as security vulnerabilities as well.

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Question Everything/Don’t Connect to Every Network

Just because free public Wi-Fi is offered doesn’t mean you ‘have to’ connect to it, and don’t assume that all offered networks are legitimate. Cyber criminals can easily setup bogus and malicious networks only intended to record personal and valuable information to use later. The rule of thumb here: don’t connect to any unrecognized or unknown access points.

Users must be aware and always keep in mind that public Wi-Fi networks are just that “public”, and are not very secure at all. Remember, nothing is completely and 100% secure when dealing with the internet. But just like everything else, the more security layers that are in place and safety precautions taken, the more each user will be protected.

Posted in Tips.