Take Precautions When Connecting to Public WiFi

Internet Access Here Sign

(Photo credit: Steve Rhode)

I am a member of LifeLock, the identity protection company, and today they passed on some important information I thought I’d share with you.  It concerns public Wi-Fi and how to protect yourself when accessing it.

Just yesterday I was in a store and wanted to check a product online before I bought it.  Many public establishments provide free internet access to their guests.  This comes in very handy, but taking a few precautions before you connect may save you a big headache.

Here’s what LifeLife recommends:

Instead of staying away from public Wi-Fi, just stay safe. Following these five simple steps will help protect your private data from prying eyes:
1 Don’t make online purchases or access your bank account.
If you don’t want someone getting ahold of your banking information or credit card number, it’s best not to access your accounts when connected to public Wi-Fi.
2 Double-check the network name.
Sometimes thieves will set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots with legitimate sounding names. You access the fake network and they get access to your data. Double-check the network name with a server, barista or other employee before logging on.
3 Turn auto-connect off.
Many smartphones have a setting that will allow these devices to automatically connect to any open Wi-Fi network. Check your phone’s settings to make sure this feature is turned off and take control of what networks you access.
4 Switch up your passwords.
Don’t use the same password for all of your online accounts. This way if one account is compromised, the rest stay safe.
5 Look for the lock.
A locked padlock in the address bar of your web browser means the information submitted to that particular site is encrypted. While this provides an extra layer of security when connected to public Wi-Fi, it’s not fail-safe. Don’t share information online that you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with the person sitting at the table next to you.
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