Think about how many times a day you take out your phone or tablet to either complete a task or browse the Internet and your applications. Now think about where you do this. The local coffee shop, the gym, your favorite lunch spot, shopping malls, even the grocery store! You access and download data more often than you think and if you’re connected to the web via a public WI-FI network, you could be putting your personal information at risk.
So, how can you protect your sensitive information while accessing public WI-FI?
- Learn how to tell what kind of network you’re connected to. Usually, WI-FI networks at places such as coffee shops and airports are unencrypted and have no lock on them. If a network is encrypted, your device will prompt you to enter a password to establish the WI-FI signal.
- Consider installing a virtual private network on your device. A VPN adds encryption between your equipment and any unencrypted Internet connection. Anyone trying to monitor your device will only be able to see that you’re connected to a VPN and your activity will be hidden.
- Websites that have an “https” at the beginning of their web address indicates that the website is encrypted and can help prevent unauthorized access. Another way to visually identify secure web addresses is to look for a certificate, which is a lock icon on the URL.
- Keep your electronics updated with the latest software upgrades to ensure that your device is operating on the newest and most secure system available.
- Make sure your device isn’t enabled to automatically sync to any open public WI-FI networks. Being conscious of your connectivity configuration will help you become more aware of when your personal information could be at risk.
Due to the countless times a day you casually open your phone and scroll through the Internet and use data, it is extremely important to make sure you are exercising all options in making sure your web session is safe in public.