Today, we’ve become addicted to Internet access at all times of the day or night. If you walk into any restaurant, bar, coffee shop or shopping mall, you’ll see dozens of people attached to their electronic devices.
It has become so common place that when we go somewhere in public, many of us log into wi-fi as our first course of action. But this isn’t the best thing to do if you want to stay safe while surfing the Internet or checking your emails. Using public wi-fi can be quite dangerous and leave you open to hackers.
Why Public Wi-fi Isn’t Safe
When it comes to public wi-fi, just think of it this way: someone is always listening in on you.
No one would walk into a public place and start talking loudly while telling people their credit card number, social security number, or computer passwords. That would be crazy.
But if you log in to public wi-fi, you may as well be doing this. There are hackers who sit in public places with free wi-fi just so they can steal this type of information.
They will stake out a spot at those coffee shops that are literally on every street corner, sit with their laptop loaded with a few pieces of software, and let the information come rolling in and you will never know until you’ve been hacked.
Likewise, some are even setting up their own mobile hotspots with “safe” sounding names like Public Wi-Fi Access. When people log in to this hotspot, they are literally handing their information over to the hackers.
How to Keep Your Devices Safe in Public
There are a few ways that you can stay safe on public wi-fi, including:
- Ask — If you aren’t sure if a public wi-fi network is real or a fake hotspot, ask an employee what the network name and password is. If they don’t know or if they say that they don’t have one, then don’t connect at all.
- Use a VPN — A virtual private network (VPN) is a great tool that anyone concerned with privacy should have. This service will connect you, often masking your location, which is why it is often used by hackers themselves to hide their movements. But for legitimate computer users, this is useful because it encrypts your data so that even if a hacker does steal it, all they will get is useless gibberish.
- Enable two-factor authentication — This should be enabled even if you don’t use public wi-fi. With two-factor authentication, your username and password are entered to log-in and then you receive a code sent to your smartphone as a text message. To finally log-in, you have to enter that code from your text. This will protect you because even if a hacker can steal your log-in information, they won’t have access to your cellphone to be able to get into your accounts.
- Don’t share — When you’re at home or work, you may have your device enabled to share files for easy access on the network. When you’re in public, turn this off completely. You should also disable the features that allow you to be seen on public wi-fi connects. The more anonymous you can be online, the safer your data will be.
Protect Yourself When Out In Public
When it comes to staying safe online, you have to use extra caution. Never log in to a public wi-fi account unless you know for sure that it’s legitimate. When you do log-in, only visit sites with HTTPS certification and don’t share information. And if you can, invest in a VPN service to stop hackers in their tracks.
Radius Bridge wants you to be aware and proactive in protecting your personal data. Find out more about Radius Bridge and how we’re protecting businesses every day.