Being able to connect to wi-fi in a public place is very convenient. However, just because it is free and easily accessible doesn’t mean it is secure. Unlike home wi-fi where you can take steps to keep your home network secure, the secureness of public wi-fi is out of your control. If a network isn’t secure and you log into an unencrypted site, other users on the same network can see what you are seeing and sending. This opens up the opportunity for someone else to take over access in your accounts and potentially steal any personal and financial information- which could lead to your identity being stolen.
Here are some ways to protect your information and keep data secure when using public Wi-Fi:*
- Connect to websites securely. If you see https in the web address, you have a secure connection to the website. But using https does not mean a website is legit. Scammers know how to encrypt sites, too. They know that people assume https means a website is safe — so they’ve started adding it to their websites, as well. So your data is encrypted on its way to the site, but it won’t be safe from scammers operating that site.
- Consider using a VPN app for your accounts. Some virtual private networks, known as VPNs, offer encryption.
- Avoid accessing personal or financial information. Always assume a public Wi-Fi network isn’t secure.
- Log out of accounts right after use.
- Turn off automatic Wi-Fi connecting. That way, you have more control over when and how you use public Wi-Fi.