Why Using a Public Wi-Fi Network Can Be Dangerous Edit Title

Consumers can access Wi-Fi hotspots everywhere today, from coffee shops and hotels to airports and stores. Logging into the web with your mobile device in public places is easier than ever. But this free access comes at a price. Sure, Wi-Fi hotspots are convenient, but they also provide a way for cybercriminals to track your online activity, steal your personal data or hijack your logins and passwords.

Since public Wi-Fi signals are open, a piece of eavesdropping software is enough to allow others to steal your information without your knowledge. Even if it has a password, a public Wi-Fi is never as secure as your private network.

Here are 6 smart ways to stay safe when accessing a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

1. Have a look around you

If you're working with your laptop in a public place like a coffee shop or hotel lobby, you might be exposed to people who are secretly observing what you're typing. Be aware of your surroundings and check that there are no “shoulder surfers” watching what you're doing. To stay on the safe side, sit with your laptop screen turned away from everyone else or purchase a privacy screen.

2. Don't visit websites which require authentication

While logged into a public network, never visit websites which require you to log in using a username and password. This goes especially for social networking sites, or your online banking system. It's easy to intercept that type of information in public networks, and the price you might pay for this kind of risk is huge.

*3. Use a VPN *

Virtual private networks create a network-within-a-network and can keep all your activity private – even when you're accessing a public Wi-Fi. VPNs basically make you invisible to identity thieves, and ensure secure browsing. Which VPN service should you choose? Check out these VPN reviews on Secure Thoughts blog to pick a VPN that will guard your identity on the web.

4. Enable a firewall

Most operating systems are equipped with a firewall which is a great solution for keeping unwanted users away from your device. You're probably already using a firewall, but just in case, go to your security settings and make sure that your firewall is turned on – here's how to do it in a few short steps. A firewall isn't a fool-proof solution, but it's key that you enable it on your device.

5. Use HTTPS and SSL

Connections over HTTP protocol are susceptible to being intercepted by malevolent parties. Make sure that you use HTTPS for visiting websites and enable SSL to ensure that your applications access the internet in a safe way. SSL encrypts data passed between your computer and web servers, helping you to effectively protect it against theft.

6. When not using Wi-Fi, simply turn it off

To make sure that your devices are secure, turn off your Wi-Fi whenever you aren't actively using the internet. It's a simple step, but it guarantees that no unwanted parties can intercept your private data, no matter how sophisticated their techniques.

The longer you stay connected, the longer time cybercriminals have to notice your activity and start snooping for valuable data.

It's fun to sit back and surf the web while sipping a delicious latte in a coffee shop. But it's always worth to be cautious and avoid accessing your email, social networks or bank accounts while on a public hotspot – it's simply not worth the risk.

Use these 6 tips to stay secure even while connected to a public network without a password.

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