Nowadays, you can find public Wi-Fi practically anywhere you go. From your favourite local coffee shop, through to shopping malls, and train stations or airports, pretty much any public area is now offering free Wi-Fi.
Needless to say, public Wi-Fi connections make our lives much easier than they once were, and no longer do we need to spend hours searching for a connection. The problem is that they also pose a variety of security risks to the personal data that we have stored on our computers and devices.
In the following article, we’re going to take a look at public Wi-Fi, as well as the 6 most common mistakes people are making when connecting to the internet via a public connection.
Secure and Unsecured Wi-Fi
In the world of public internet connections, there are primarily two different types of public Wi-Fi connections: secured and unsecured.
Secured Wi-Fi connections typically require users to register an account before being able to access the network. They’ll also have to agree to the network’s legal terms and conditions, as well as typing in a password in order to gain access. In some cases, secured networks may even require a fee or proof of in-store purchase in order to connect.
On the other hand, unsecured networks can be accessed by anyone within range of the router and they do not require any form of login credentials such as a username or password. Most public Wi-Fi sources fall into this unsecured category, which means that the network’s owner has not implemented any form of security for those who access it.
With that said, no matter whether you’re connected to a secured or unsecured network, it’s important to use caution at all times when using public Wi-Fi.
Now, let’s take a look at the most common mistakes people make when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Not Using a VPN
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is the simplest and safest way to access public Wi-Fi.
VPN services ensure that your devices are protected by creating a secure, encrypted tunnel, with which any data being sent or received by your device must pass through in order to reach the world wide web.
At the same time, using a VPN will disguise your device’s IP address, meaning that all of your online activity will be kept completely anonymous and confidential while online.
Get more insights on PureVPN and other VPN services.
Accessing Personal Accounts
Of course, it can be tempting to login and do your online banking while sipping on a latte at your favourite coffee shop. However, we recommend that you never access any type of banking or personal accounts while connected to a public Wi-Fi source.
In fact, even secured, public Wi-Fi connections can be risky at times. Therefore, it’s best to simply avoid accessing any type of private or personal account while using public Wi-Fi.
Leaving Your Devices Unattended
Although you probably feel fairly safe when sitting at a restaurant or café, you can never truly be sure who else is in the same room as you.
With that said, it’s important to never leave your computer, smartphone, or tablet unattended in a public setting. Let’s put it this way, even if you’re using a VPN and access a secured network, those won’t stop a criminal from snagging your property, even though you only left for 2 minutes to use the washroom.
Just like you should never access your bank account on public Wi-Fi, you should also never shop online when connected to a public Wi-Fi source. Although the act of browsing and looking at products online doesn’t involve any type of risk, making online purchases requires you to enter personal data, which usually includes your banking information.
Smart, tech-savvy criminals could potentially be watching the network and if you’re not careful, they could steal your credit card or payment information, without you even knowing it. So, no matter what, shopping is never something you want to do from a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
Learn more about therisks of online shopping.
Leaving Automatic Connectivity Turned On
Most laptops, smartphones, and tablets have an automatic connectivity feature, which allows you to instantly connect to a Wi-Fi source as soon as you come within range of it. While this can be an extremely useful and convenient feature, it could also connect your device to an unsafe network without you even knowing.
Therefore, it’s best to keep this setting disabled, especially when you’re travelling to an unfamiliar place.
Leaving Bluetooth Enabled at All Times
Although Bluetooth is another feature that makes connecting your smart devices quick and easy, it can also pose a huge threat to your online safety when you’re near a public Wi-Fi source.
Bluetooth works by allowing all sorts of devices to connect and communicate with each other. The problem is that hackers and criminals sometimes look forBluetooth signals in order to gain access to unprotected devices.
With that said, it’s best to keep this feature disabled when you’re not using it, and especially when you’re using a public Wi-Fi connection.