Public WiFi networks are the WiFi access points available to everyone in the area. These public WiFI networks are usually made available by organizations such as schools, universities, government buildings or commercial places such as coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, etc. You can also find public WiFi near bus stands, railway stations and airports.
Public WiFi is available for the convenience of the people and it can make your life easier, but it also poses security risks because you never know how the WiFi networks are configured and whether they are compromised. You can stay safe while using public WiFi using the following tips:
1. Use a reliable VPN
VPN (virtual private network) encrypts all the data transfer between your device and the internet, making it impossible for anyone to monitor your online activities. it safeguards all the internet traffic not only from the WiFi admin but also from other users of the same network. You can choose from many reliable VPN services such as Cloudflare WARP, F-Secure Freedome, or McAfee Safe Connect.
2. Use secured WiFi networks
Secured networks are the ones that ask you for a password before a connection is established. Usually managers of commercial places such a hotels setup this password so that only their customers can use it. These connections are considered safer as the bogus WiFi networks designed to steal your data tend to unsecured networks.
3. Confirm before using public WiFi
When in a public place, you should first ask the management about the WiFi login even if you can see the WiFi appear in the list of networks on your device. For example, in a hotel you can approach the front desk and ask them WiFi access details. This way you can avoid some fake WiFi networks setup by hackers.
4. Avoid accessing bank accounts or shopping online
Even if you are accessing a secured WiFi network, you should still avoid accessing your bank accounts or other financial accounts (such as PayPal). Similarly, you should avoid checking out and making payments for online shopping. This is because even secured WiFi could be risky. If you have to access these accounts, then you should turn off WiFi and use your mobile data (4G/5G).
5. Turn off automatic connection
All devices have an automatic connection setting for WiFi networks, so that your device can connect to a network as soon as it is discovered. You should disable this automatic connection setting or your device might be connecting on its own to possibly compromised networks. Similarly, you should choose to “forget a WiFi network” after you leave that public place.
6. Install a good antivirus
Some WiFi networks could be compromised and might direct you to malicious sites. These sites can deliver malware on your device. To block any attempts of dropping malware on your devices and taking over your system, you should always keep a good antivirus product installed on your device. There are many security solutions you can choose from such as ESET Internet Security or Bitdefender Antivirus.