Public WiFi Security & What To Do To Be Safe

How to stay secure when using public Wi-Fi...

Wi-Fi on a phone

At one point, all of us need to use a public Wi-Fi network. Whether it’s at an airport, a hotel or in a cafĂ©, we need to get online and respond to an email or finish some other work. And while doing so, we face a risk of being hacked.

The problem is that public Wi-Fi networks are often open, thus insecure, making it possible for tech-savvy individuals to snoop into your traffic. These so-called “man in the middle” attacks presume a hacker intercepting your data and potentially getting ahold of your personal information. It’s not a theory but a real threat, with the number of these hacks growing every year.

So what can you/we do in order to stay safe while using public Wi-Fi:

1. Use a VPN

A VPN should be the most important tool in your arsenal. It will encrypt all data coming to and from your device and the rest of the Internet. As a result, even if someone manages to get some of your data, he/she will not be able to do anything with it — they’ll get encrypted information that is virtually impossible to use.

That being said, you should always have your VPN turned on before connecting to a public Wi-Fi, whether it’s password protected or not. If you still don’t have one, check out our list of Best of the Best VPNs and take it from there.

2. Use antivirus software

Like a VPN, an antivirus software is a must when connecting to public Wi-Fi. And also, make sure that your antivirus is up to date at all times. An outdated virus definition database could potentially pave the way for a savvy hacker to use the vulnerability that newer virus includes against you.

An antivirus is especially important on Windows machines whereas if you’re using some other platform, perhaps you could “get away” without it.

3. Try not to access your bank accounts

What hackers dream of is getting someone’s financial information and connecting to your online banking account gives them just that. So don’t do it. Wait until you get back home or to some other location with a secure network. Yeah, you may be in a hurry but don’t do it. Just remember the potential risks…

4. Don’t open password managers or cloud services

Related to the previous point – you don’t want a hacker to steal your passwords for the most important services you regularly use. In that sense, aside from online banking, try not to connect to password managers, cloud services and social media sites while connecting through a public network. If someone manages to get your credentials, he/she could make havoc to your personal life and potentially even cause financial damage.

5. Connect via LAN

If there is an option to connect with a good ol’ cable – use it. An Ethernet cable is way more secure than Wi-Fi, with your data not “floating around” the space, just waiting for someone to grab it.

Sure, this can also be hacked if someone manages to hack a router, but that would require even more skill. Therefore, even when connecting via cable, make sure to have your VPN and an antivirus running at all times. You can never be too secure.