Technical skills are important for success in this day and age, and wireless internet access is available almost anywhere to help us stay connected on the go. In many cases, this service is provided for free or for a small fee. Some examples include hotels, airports, and businesses such as coffee shops and restaurants. Although having wireless internet accessible anywhere and anytime is very convenient, it also presents certain risks.

Follow these tips to help keep you and your computer safe when connected to a public wireless network:

  • 6 8 16 WiFiMake sure a public wireless network is legitimate by always checking with the staff of the establishment. Sometimes cyber criminals will set up fake wireless networks to lure people in. They will usually name the fake wireless network something similar to the establishment’s legitimate public wireless network. Cyber criminals have the ability to intercept data that is going across open wireless networks, including usernames, passwords, and other confidential information. They can also potentially see what you are typing.  Do not connect to uncertain/strange public wireless networks.
  • Disconnect from any public wireless network if you notice that strange activity is going on.
  • Do not leave a wireless device unattended, and disconnect from the public wireless network when you are not using it.
  • When surfing the web on a public wireless network, try to only use sites that have a lock next to their address, known as HTTPS protected sites. Since these sites are encrypted, they are much safer than sites without HTTPS.
  • Under your computer internet connection settings, turn off “connect automatically.” For phones, use the “forget network” setting. This will significantly decrease the chances of you automatically connecting to a bad public wireless network.
  • Try to not send/receive sensitive information when hooked up to a public wireless network. If you must send or receive sensitive information while using public wireless, try to confirm the security of the network in advance.
  • Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-malware program installed and updated when connecting to a public wireless network.
  • Make sure all systems and software are up-to-date with the latest patches when connecting to a public wireless network.

-Paul Rosenquist