Dos and Don’t of Public WiFi

Grabbing a coffee, taking the kids to the library, or just sneaking a peek at your email while out and about is easy to do these days, but are you sure you’re the only one looking at your email? Public WiFi is great for saving on our data usage, and while it has made life more comfortable, it does pose security risks to the information we all have on our laptops, phones, or tablets.

First, we need to explain the two types of public WiFi you can access. Unsecured public WiFi can be connected to within a specific range and without any security features such as having to use a password or logging in to access it. A secured network requires a user to agree to legal terms, register an account, or use a password before you are allowed to connect. Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security just because it is secured. Both types of public WiFi should be used with caution.

Here is a list of dos and don’ts you can follow for when you are connected to public WiFi.

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Do connect to secure public access whenever possible.

Do turn off automatic connectivity, especially in unfamiliar places. While this offers seamless connections from one public WiFi to the next, it is smart to have these settings turned off, so you are aware when you’re connected.

Do monitor your Bluetooth connectivity as well. When leaving Bluetooth on while in public places can pose a considerable cybersecurity risk because it allows various devices to communicate with one another if this function is not locked down. And do you want a hacker scanning for open Bluetooth signals to find yours?

Do give a virtual private network serious consideration. A VPN solution will ensure your privacy is protected even when you use public WiFi. Using a VPN can encrypt all the data you send and receive while using public WiFi, which means your information is secure from all the others on that connection.

Don’t access bank accounts or sensitive data on an unsecured WiFi network. Even on a secured network this can be risky.

Don’t leave your device unattended in a public place. Even if you ask some random stranger to watch it while you just sneak into the line for another coffee or use the washroom, are you sure they will stop someone from sneaking a peek at your device? Yes, it’s a pain to take it with you, but an immense inconvenience is having someone either steal your device or access your data.

Don’t shop online when using public WiFi. That deal you just can’t live without should wait to be purchased when you are sure your connection is a secure one. Not only does online shopping require some type of banking information, but it usually involves you sharing personal stuff like your address, phone number, and others.

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