4 Ways To Stay Safe On Public Wi-Fi

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Follow these tips to stay safe on public Wi-Fi.

Did you know that when you’re using public Wi-Fi in an airport, a coffee shop or even at a hotel that your personal data is at risk? With public Wi-Fi many people are connected to the same network at the same time and even with a solid firewall in place you’re privacy and identity can be accessed and stolen. To bolster Wi-Fi security make sure that you implement some of these best practices.

Disable Sharing

Many of us have our laptops configured for our home networks so that we can share printers and files, but when you’re out and about you’ll want to turn this feature off. Depending on whether you use a PC or a Mac the steps that you follow to disable sharing will be different.

Get A Virtual Private Network (VPN)

We’ve spotlighted a variety of privacy-focused VPNs before, but it’s worth mentioning that using one can be a big help for anyone accessing public Wi-Fi. Because your activity is routed through a separate, secure server you aren’t as exposed. This makes using public Wi-Fi more secure by deterring others from snooping or watching your activity.


Think of HTTPS and SSL as forms of data encryption. Instead of openly exchanging your personal information to those with nefarious intentions you’re cloaking it with an added layer of security. You can adjust settings on your computer so that only SSL is allowed. Additionally, you can confirm HTTPS in your browser’s address bar when you visit any given site. As a rule of thumb, do non-secure browsing at home and secure-only when using public Wi-Fi.

Launch A Firewall

An added measure and deterrent is your laptop’s firewall. Most modern computers have this as a built-in feature so it’s pretty easy to turn-on in your settings. A firewall isn’t a one-shot answer for complete protection, but it will help boost your overall security and that’s a good thing. Make sure to research how to turn your firewall settings on based on your OS.

Deploying the above best practices for public Wi-Fi will assist with protecting you on public Wi-Fi, but they’re certainly not foolproof. Be aware conscientious when you’re signing in to Wi-Fi locations. Also keep an eye out for fake Wi-Fi hotspots, or evil twin wireless networks. These hotspots look like a Starbuck’s Wi-Fi, but they’re actually imposters so double check before you click and connect.

Photo Credit: JPott via CC





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Sarah Hartshorn is a marketing, public relations and social media professional with Vuze. She blogs about content, torrents, social media and a number of other tech topics. Sarah has been involved with traditional and digital marketing since 1998.