Public wifi has become a ‘must have’ convenience for some of us when we are on-the-go, enabling us to check our social media accounts, catch up with work emails and much more whilst we are away from home. It is commonly available in restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, airports and many more public locations, making the internet easily accessible to anyone wherever we are.
Most business owners take precautions to offer a secure connection, however, fraudsters and hackers can take advantage of an unsecure connection to intercept a victims’ data and personal information.
So, what are the risks? We have created some tips to avoid being caught out when using public wi-fi:
- Confirm the wifi name with the business owner: Malicious hotspots can be created easily by fraudsters to trick victims into connecting. For example, a hotel called ‘The Grand’ may offer its customers free wifi. Fraudsters could create a hotspot around the hotel with a name that customers wouldn’t necessarily question, such as ‘Grand_Hotel1’, in the hope that victims will connect to the fraudulent hotspot.
- Disable file sharing features on your device: If you do accidentally log in to a fraudulent hotspot, this will prevent fraudsters from accessing large amounts of your private files. It’s important to familiarise yourself with your devices privacy settings so you know your device is secure. On most smartphones and tablets, you can also have secure or private folders which require a password to access it. It’s a good idea to turn off Bluetooth as an extra precaution.
- Check the website is secure: Always check for ‘HTTPS’ in the web address, this ensures that the website you are visiting is secure. Try to avoid using accounts which hold sensitive data, such as online banking.
- Log out of your e-mail accounts: To add an extra safety measure when using a wifi hotspot, we suggest logging out of your email accounts and any other accounts which may hold your personal information.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): This will encrypt all of your data, making it impossible for fraudsters to decipher. It is also worth installing anti-virus protection and a reputable firewall which will protect your device from virus and other malware.
- Switch off auto Wi-Fi connection: Check your connection settings on your device to make sure you do not automatically connect to any without your approval.
- Only use connections which ask for a password. When logging in to a wifi hotspot, make sure that you are asked for a password. If you are in doubt – do not connect and check with the business owner.