We are offered countless options for connection to public Wi-Fi to work from coffee shops, check social media from restaurants or malls, or connect to Wi-Fi from a hotel or another public-facing business.
With all these options for instant internet connection, how can you protect your online information and keep yourself theft-free?
Opt for a semi-open network instead of completely open, or create a hotspot
Semi-open networks require the user to enter an email address or to click on their terms and services before allowing access. Some internet service providers (ISPs) have begun to offer public hotspots to their customers for free, or to other users for a small fee.
Due to the extra security to weed out the false users and internet robots, these semi-open networks are inherently more secure than those that allow instant connection for free. As well, semi-open networks boast a quicker internet speed due to less widespread public usage.
Alternatively, using your phone to create a hotspot to connect your laptop or another mobile device to the internet is the safest way to access the internet in public as you are using your private connection.
Use a VPN service
What is a VPN and how can it help you? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. There are several types of VPNs which take your outgoing data and channel it through an encrypted tunnel or a set of proxy servers to hide the traffic from you to the internet, making it appear as though the VPN is initiating the exchange rather than you.
Encrypted data coming from the VPN can’t be read by third parties trying to steal your information, which gives your connection more security than should you proceed without using a VPN. As an added bonus, many VPN providers also include anti-malware or anti-spyware in their software for extra protection.
Don’t share images or personal information when it’s not crucial
In sharing pieces of your information or images online, a profile is slowly being built for you on the internet which develops over time with every further interaction with the web. You can protect your identity from online theft by not using your images and name online, or scramble where the data appears to come from with a VPN.
In some cases, however, it’s important to relay certain pieces of data to customer service representatives or institutions either via an app or through email. Where possible, only give your critical personal or financial information through the phone.
Use websites that have HTTPS or SSL connections
You will notice a green lock icon appear in the URL bar of the browser you are using, which indicates that the interactions between the site and your browser are encrypted and secured over an unsecured network, such as public Wi-Fi.