Tips for Staying Safe on Open Network Connections

Public WiFi networks are everywhere, from hotels to airports, but their convenience has a price. These open network connections are a simple way for cybercriminals to track users’ online movements and steal their information. The features that make open networks so great for users are the same ones that make them beneficial to hackers. Establishing an internet connection doesn’t require authentication, which makes it simple for thieves to gain unauthorized access. Here, users can get some easy tips to protect their data on public WiFi networks.

Use VPNs

The easiest way to protect sensitive data is with a VPN or virtual private network. It creates an encrypted tunnel that protects the client’s data. Some networks block traffic from VPNs, so they must be sent via HTTPS which is allowed in most cases. VPNs are useful for connecting to corporate resources when using public WiFi networks, as they prevent hackers from accessing sensitive data.

Focus on Encrypted Websites

If a user cannot use a VPN, they can protect themselves during public WiFi use by only using encrypted sites (those that begin with https). These sites are regarded as being more secure than those beginning with http. With https sites, users can get a secure connection over an unsecured network.

Secure Computers

Whether someone is in a hotel room or coffee shop, they should use the ‘public network’ option on their computer, as opposed to the ‘home network’ option. The former option locks down the internet connection and ensures that the user’s PC isn’t sharing sensitive data with other machines on the WiFi network. It’s equally important to regularly update firewall and antivirus software and to apply security patches as they are released.

Be Cautious When Shopping Online

Users should never store bank account or credit card information on their devices when using public WiFi networks. This includes apps such as Android and Apple Pay, buying items on Amazon, or using online banking. Users can further protect themselves by using different passwords for business and personal financial accounts.

The internet can be a scary place, particularly for those who rely on public and unsecured WiFi networks. However, with these tips in mind, users of laptops and mobile devices can keep their personal information safe.