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Online Safety Tips When Using Public Wi-Fi

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6.2.2022
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Security
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Michael Quirk

Public Wi-Fi is pretty much everywhere! Whether you’re sharing vacation photos with friends or getting some work done at a local coffee shop, public Wi-Fi can be convenient as it’s easy to use, open to everyone and does not require usernames or passwords. However, a good rule of thumb is to err on the side of caution, since the wireless connection between your device and the Internet is not encrypted. This means that while you’re connected to public Wi-Fi, it provides opportunities for hackers to view your device’s wireless traffic. Learn more about using public Wi-Fi and tips to follow:

Only Visit Secure, Encrypted Websites

Most websites used for personal and business matters are HTTPS encrypted websites. If you see a web browser pop-up message mentioning SSL certificate mismatches while you are on public Wi-Fi, consider disconnecting or not visiting any sites that use your personal credentials, like passwords or financial information. This message indicates that your internet activity is being intercepted by either the Wi-Fi provider or a hacker, exposing any data that goes to or from that website.    

Opt for a Secured Public Network

When possible, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. However, if you do need to connect, choose well-known secured networks. Also, check your device’s settings to ensure it doesn’t automatically connect to available public Wi-Fi networks.

Explore VPN Solutions to Boost Your Privacy

If connecting to public Wi-Fi is something you may need to do frequently, consider a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, which encrypts network traffic data between your device and the Internet, providing a layer of increased security. There are numerous VPN services, so research different providers and costs to decide which one meets your security needs.   

Read the Terms and Conditions

When joining a public Wi-Fi network, review the terms and conditions page for language detailing what type of data is collected and how it’ll be used.

Final Tips

When using public Wi-Fi, avoid accessing your financial data (such as your bank account) or shopping online, which usually requires you to input credit card information. While public Wi-Fi can be convenient, following safe measures on the front end could prevent your personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

 

By: Michael Quirk

Michael Quirk is the communications coordinator for Ameris Bank. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, Katy, and their two dogs. He enjoys running, playing fetch with his golden retriever and watching any sports that come across the TV.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Ameris Bank does not endorse nor is affiliated with the companies listed in this article.

Sources: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-safely-use-public-wi-fi-networks

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/10/technology/personaltech/security-Wi-Fi-lte-data.html

https://www.wired.com/story/public-Wi-Fi-safety-tips/