How to be cautious on public networks

Not every network is secure. Many public networks and Wi-Fi hotspots don’t require a WPA or WPA2 password when you connect. If no password is required, it is likely not a secure network.

If you use an unsecured network to log in to an unencrypted site — or a site that uses encryption only on the sign-in page — you are potentially exposing your sensitive data and log-in credentials to everyone on that network, including scammers.

The best way to protect yourself

Avoid using public, unsecured networks and Wi-Fi hotspots. If you must get online, here are a few precautions you can take:

  • Use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs encrypt traffic between your computer and the Internet, even on unsecured networks.
  • Disable wireless connectivity when not in use.
  • Consider finding a secure public network nearby. Since so many establishments provide internet connectivity, it is very possible that a more secure network is just a short walk away.
  • Use personal firewall, which serves as a protective barrier between your computer and the Internet and prevents unauthorized access to your computer when you’re online.
  • Look for https at the start of the web address. Make sure that https exists on every page, not just the log-in page.
  • If you are still unsure of the security of a public network, don’t use it for conducting confidential business, such as accessing your work email or personal/financial information.

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