WiFi hotspots sound like the perfect solution for accessing the internet in public, especially if you have limited data or poor mobile service. Many mobile providers offer hotspots, or you may use public WiFi at the airport, a favorite coffee shop or even your dentist. Some providers also connect you to public hotspots automatically, but only if the Wi-Fi connection is secure. If no secure network is available, you can manually choose to connect to an unsecured hotspot. But wherever you use them, it's important to take steps to keep your personal information safe before you click that & # 39; connect & # 39; press.
What are the dangers of public hotspots?
As useful as public hotspots are, there are security issues. Knowing what they are is the first step to protecting yourself. Most problems can be summarized in two ways:
- Connecting to the wrong hotspot . Fake hotspots with a similar name can be set to capture login information, sensitive data or to access your machine. Always make sure that you click on the correct hotspot name before you connect.
- No coding . While your device sends information over the internet, encryption hides it from prying eyes. Public hotspots usually do not use encryption, leaving your data vulnerable.
How you can protect yourself while using public hotspots
Sending information via a public hotspot is very similar to having a sensitive conversation in the open air. While it is possible that nothing bad will happen, others can listen to what you say and use that information to their advantage.
You can prevent this by taking these three steps: prepare your device in advance, be careful when setting up the WiFi connection and keep your privacy in mind while browsing and going online.
Follow these steps to get your device in advance:
- Make sure your smartphone or device has the most recent virus settings. This helps you stay protected and makes your smartphone less vulnerable to attacks.
- Always log out of sensitive sites, such as mobile banking apps, before you can access a public network.
- Use two-factor authentication to ensure that you are the only one who has access to your accounts. Once you have registered with your username and password, the site will send you a code by email or text message that you must enter to prove your identity. This extra step protects you if your login details have been compromised.
Take these safety measures when creating a WiFi connection:
- Disable the option to connect to a hotspot automatically.
- Disable your "Devices and Printers" Option for the connection you make.
Follow these steps to keep your personal information safe when connected to a public hotspot:
- Do not enter passwords or sensitive information such as bank details or your social security number. [1
If you are a frequent traveler and regularly connect to public hotspots, consider using a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs encrypt your data and maintain your privacy. They are not necessary for occasional browsing in a coffee shop, but are worth it for those who often have to use public WiFi.
Public hotspots are a great resource, but your security must always be at hand when you use them. A few simple precautions can help keep your data secure while you have access to the information you need while on the move.
Christy Matte is a Boston-based writer and contributor to Xfinity Mobile . She is a die-hard techie who loves video games, surfing the web and every gadget she can get hold of.