The dos and don’ts of using public Wi-Fi

Wondering whether it’s safe to use public WiiFi for business or personal matters? Here are some of the dos and don’ts to follow to stay safe.

We’ve all been there – you’re in a public place such as an airport, shopping centre, or coffee shop and looking to kill some time. You go to scroll through your phone and to speed up your browsing you seek out a public Wi-Fi connection. You get yourself hooked up before checking your emails, perusing social media, or reading the latest news.

But is it safe to use public Wi-Fi? Unsecured networks don’t require any login details, while secured networks may need you to enter a password or even buy something from the shop before you can get connected. In either instance, you must use public Wi-Fi carefully. Here are a few dos and don’ts to help guide you.

The dos of using public Wi-Fi

Here are some of the dos of using public Wi-Fi.

Do turn off Bluetooth

This can be easy to forget because many of us will leave our Bluetooth always turned on without realising the potential consequences. When you’re at home, it’s not a problem, as it can be used to connect various smart devices and enhance your tech experience. But in public places, it may connect to unfamiliar devices, which opens up the possibility for hackers to gain access to your phone or laptop and the potentially sensitive data within.

Do install a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) can offer an added level of security to protect your laptop or phone, your browsing information, and any sensitive personal details on your devices. With VPN protection, you encrypt all the data you send and receive when you connect to public Wi-Fi, meaning other users of that network will not be able to access it.

Do turn off automatic connectivity

The settings within your devices may be configured so that you automatically connect to networks when they become available. This has been built in for your convenience, but if you’re moving from place to place, then you run the risk of hooking up to an unfamiliar network that you would not have chosen, thus leaving you vulnerable to hackers and security breaches.

The don’ts of using public Wi-Fi

Here are some of the don’ts of using public Wi-Fi.

Don’t access banking information

It was recently reported that UK bank fraud reached an all-time high in 2020, and logging into your financial apps from public Wi-Fi can make it even easier for cybercriminals to access your data. Armed with that information, they could steal significant sums from your account. It’s best to only use your banking apps from a secure home or office network.

Don’t shop online

The same goes for making purchases online. Any internet shopping you do will involve entering card information and other sensitive data. If done from a public Wi-Fi connection, you leave yourself open to fraudsters gaining access to those details through the shared network, which could have major financial consequences for you.