Have you ever connected to free Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop, airport or gym? Chances are, you have in order to get online with your web-enabled device.
These public locations with Wi-Fi are convenient. You can check e-mails while you enjoy your latte, catch up on the latest news while you wait for your flight and stream your favorite Pandora station while you work out.
But just because you “agree” to the terms and conditions before you log in doesn’t mean that the free Internet access is safe.
What can you do and what shouldn’t you do on public Internet? It’s important to know so that your private information never lands in the hands of a hacker.
Don’t mess with your bank account or bills on public Wi-Fi
It might be convenient to check your account balance or pay that electric bill when you’re out. Maybe you’ve been meaning to for a week, and you finally remembered that it’s on your to-do list. Wait until you get home and are connected to your own private Wi-Fi network.
Software programs can allow hackers to get into these networks. You’ll risk someone getting your bank information, and ultimately you could be the next victim of credit card fraud.
Be cautious logging onto websites
Whether you want to check e-mail, social media or any other website that requires log-in information, make sure you do it with caution when you’re on a public network. First, you run the risk of a hacker stealing your log-in information. Not only could they sign into the website you’re on, but they could also sign into other accounts if your passwords are the same, or very similar.
Secondly, make sure to always sign out of your accounts. Whether it’s on a public device or your own web-enabled device, someone could get your log-in information if you do not sign out while connected to public Wi-Fi.
Private Wi-Fi is the best option
If a website has no personal information and requires no log in, your chances of being hacked on public Wi-Fi are slim. However, it’s best to use the private, secure network at your home.
Even on your home network, make sure that you take the necessary steps for your own Internet security. A few tips:
- Use strong passwords (and make each one unique)
- Use the security that comes with your Wi-Fi router
- Have anti-virus software installed on your computer and regularly update it