We are a mobile society with devices we can pick up and carry and go and work wherever we happen to be. And we rely on public WiFi to connect us while we are out and about. Here are some tips on how to roam about freely and without fear.
Proceed with Caution: There is no way around it. When you are on public WiFi you are sharing the internet with a whole bunch of people you do not know. Therefore, it’s best not to access your banking, go shopping, check your work email, look at social media pages or any other activity that shares your personal information. Instead check up on the news or other general activities. Make sure to keep your devices software up to date and also disconnect as soon as you accomplish what you need to.
Online Policy: It’s important to understand what you are “paying” for that free hookup. If there is a certain location that you use consistently, check out their policy ahead of time so you know if they collect information, what information they collect and what they do with that information. For example, if you are Starbucks junkie, here is what you should know about their public WiFi. That said, it’s actually a good idea to stick to the same chain for connecting, even while traveling. The fewer company WiFi’s you use the fewer companies that know your information.
https://: The “s” in this equation is an important letter to see while browsing as it indicates that the site is secure. Also, look for a green padlock symbol in the browser bar. This means that there is a measure of control that makes it more difficult for others to see where you go and what you are doing.
Access: The more blocks there are to access the better the security. Some locations will not allow access to their WiFi without a password, and the only way to get that password is to purchase something.
Virtually Private: A VPN or Virtual Private Network is your best bet! This is downloadable software that is purchased and will encrypt your data, making it all the more difficult for anyone to see what you are accessing via your mobile device. For a list of the top VPNs, check out this information from PC Magazine.
Home Security: While I’m at it, let’s also talk about your home WiFi. You certainly do not wish for anyone to be taking up your bandwidth, nor having access to all you do on your personal WiFi. 99.9% of those hoping to tap into your WiFi can be thwarted simply by password protecting your router – of course, you should avoid using passwords such as “password” or “admin,” think more along the lines of “M33tin8P1ann3r” and no, that is not my password 😉
May all your WiFi travels be safe and well, meeting planners!