The Risk of Using Unsecured Wi-Fi | 6 Ways to Keep Yourself Cyber Safe

Public or free Wi-Fi is available just about everywhere, from your local coffee shop to hotels, airports even fast food chains. Wi-Fi has made your life a little easier, but it also poses security risks to your personal information available on your laptop and smartphone. Here is a helpful list of dos and don’ts you should follow if you plan to use public Wi-Fi.

There are basically two types of public Wi-Fi networks: secured and unsecured.

An unsecured network can be connected to within range and without any type of security feature like a password or login. On the other hand, a secured network requires a user to agree to legal terms, register an account, or type in a password before connecting to the network. It may also require a fee or store purchase to gain access to the password or network.

Regardless of the connection type, you should only use a public network with caution.

Do connect to secured public networks whenever possible. Using an unsecured network would be acceptable if the connection requires some type of login or registration.

Don’t access your personal bank accounts, or any sensitive personal data, on unsecured public networks. Even secured networks can be risky.

Don’t leave your laptop, tablet, or smartphone unattended in a public place. Even if you’re working on a secure Wi-Fi network, that won’t stop someone from taking your property or sneaking a peek at your device.

Don’t shop online when using public Wi-Fi. Making purchases online requires personal information that could include bank account. Shopping isn’t something you want to do on an unsecured Wi-Fi network.

Do turn off automatic connectivity. Most smartphones, laptops, and tablets have automatic connectivity settings, which allow you to seamlessly connect from one hotspot to the next. This is a convenient feature, but it can also connect your devices to networks you ordinarily would not use. Keep these settings turned off, especially when you’re traveling to unfamiliar places.

Do think about using a virtual private network (VPN) solution to ensure your privacy and anonymity are protected when you use public Wi-Fi. VPN services can encrypt all the data that you send and receive while using a public Wi-Fi hotspot, securing your information from other users of the same connection.