Public WiFi networks are very enticing whether at a coffee shop, hotel, or convention center when one is in need of a high-speed connection to the internet.
It is true that you will enjoy a faster connection than a mobile data plan, it won’t count against your monthly data allotment, and it is generally easy to connect to and use. It is also true that there are little controls and oversight which make them equally attractive to those with nefarious intentions.
A healthy dose of caution will minimize your risk of being a victim of data/identify theft or malicious attack. Consider the following as you decide to use public WiFi and other open networks.
- Be sure you are connecting to the location’s actual WiFi network, not a network with a similar name. The actual network name is normally posted on signs around your location or in the conference proceedings.
- Look for “the lock” on sites you need to log into to use. This means at least your username and password are being encrypted, which will help keep them from being stolen. The information you are retrieving or adding to the site can still be intercepted.
- Imagine that your phone, tablet, or laptop is connected to a stadium Jumbotron. Don’t visit any sites you wouldn’t visit with 80,000 people looking over your shoulder.