Things you should not do when using public WiFi

Public WiFi networks can be convenient, but they can also be dangerous. Learn how to stay safe online with these tips

At a glance

  • Avoid logging into bank accounts, entering credit card details, or accessing any sensitive personal data. Cybercriminals can easily intercept unsecured Wi-Fi signals to capture passwords and personal information.

  • Transactions requiring financial information should be postponed until you can use a secured and private connection to prevent the risk of data theft or financial fraud.

  • Social media profiles are treasure troves of personal information. Accessing them over public Wi-Fi could expose details that could be used for identity theft or other malicious activities.

  • Any private or business-related emails with sensitive content should not be sent over a public Wi-Fi network, as these messages can potentially be intercepted by third parties.

  • Public Wi-Fi networks are not safe for transferring or accessing sensitive files. Avoid using peer-to-peer file-sharing or FTP services unless it’s through a secure, encrypted connection.

Public WiFi networks are convenient, but they can also be dangerous. When you connect to a public WiFi network, you're putting your personal information and devices at risk. Hackers can intercept your data on public WiFi networks, and they can use that data to steal your identity and your money or even take control of your devices.

Here are some things you should not do when using public WiFi:

Don't access sensitive information. This includes your bank account, credit card information, Social Security number, and other personal data. If you need to access sensitive information, it's best to wait until you're on a secure network, such as your home WiFi.

Don't shop online. When you shop online, you typically enter your credit card number and other personal information. If you're on a public WiFi network, a hacker could intercept that information and use it to make fraudulent purchases.

Don't log into social media accounts. Social media accounts contain many personal information, including your name, address, birthday, and photos. If a hacker gets access to your social media accounts, they could use that information to steal your identity or impersonate you.

Don't send or receive confidential emails. Emails can contain sensitive information, such as business secrets or personal correspondence. If you send or receive confidential emails on a public WiFi network, a hacker could intercept and read them.

Don't use file-sharing services. You can use file-sharing services to transfer files between computers. However, if you use a file-sharing service on a public WiFi network, a hacker could download files from your computer without your permission.

In addition to these things, you should also avoid doing the following when using public WiFi:

Don't leave your devices unattended. If you leave your devices unattended on a public WiFi network, someone could steal or use them to access your personal information.

Don't use unsecured websites. When you visit a website, look for the "https" in the address bar. This indicates that the website is secure and that your data is encrypted. If you're not sure whether a website is secure, don't enter any personal information.

Don't use weak passwords. Make sure you use strong passwords for all of your online accounts. A strong password is at least 12 characters long and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

When you find yourself in a situation where you need to use public WiFi, it's crucial to take specific measures to safeguard your online presence. First, using a VPN is a wise choice as it encrypts your internet traffic, substantially reducing the chances of hackers capturing your personal information. Alongside this, having a firewall in place acts as a barrier, preventing unauthorized access to your devices. Moreover, ensuring that all your software is up to date is equally important, updates typically contain security enhancements that address and fix known vulnerabilities, helping to protect your devices from potential threats. These steps contribute to a more secure online experience while using public WiFi.

Public WiFi networks can be a security risk, so protect yourself by avoiding sensitive activities, using a VPN and firewall, and keeping your software up to date.