8 easy ways to protect yourself on public Wi-Fi

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stay safe on public wifi

Public Wi-Fi has become popular today, and when you're traveling, taking online classes, or working remotely, chances are you're already using it. Gone are the days of going online and Googling for "Wi-Fi nearby". Nowadays, you can see them everywhere, in restaurants, cafes, libraries, hotels, supermarkets, public transport and many other public places.
A public Wi-Fi network will give you free internet access and save you money that you would have spent on buying mobile data. It goes without saying that these free Wi-Fi networks can come in handy when you have an urgent email, message or emergency to attend to.

But what about public Wi-Fi? And what are the risks of using public Wi-Fi connections?

Well, for starters, these networks are less secure than your phone's Internet connection because you don't know who else is connected to them and their motivations. In fact, chances are that the security of the free Wi-Fi network you are connected to is weak or non-existent. So it makes you vulnerable to cyber attacks. In this guide, I will discuss the dangers of public Wi-Fi and how you can stay safe and protect your data from hackers and other threats.

What are the security risks of public Wi-Fi connections?

Public Wi-Fi networks with captive ports are more secure than those that do not require a password or login because they can be accessed by anyone, including hackers. These types of networks are easy targets for hackers. But then, even a public Wi-Fi network with a captive port will still present many risks to unsuspecting users once a malicious actor gains access to the network. Now, let's look at some Wi-Fi security risks.

Man-in-the-middle attacks:

Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks are one of the most common threats used by hackers on public Wi-Fi networks. A MITM attack is a form of eavesdropping that allows a hacker to intercept any data sent from your phone or PC connected to public Wi-Fi. In this way, the hacker will be able to retrieve and read your passwords and login information, and can steal your account and banking information or even impersonate you.


Yes, malware can easily spread through a Wi-Fi network to all connected devices without users' knowledge. Once one of the devices connected to the network is infected and controlled by a hacker, the infected device can be used as a host on Wi-Fi as a means of infecting others on the network.
This malware can slow down the internet connection and steal user data by hijacking their sessions.

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi

Now that we've looked at the dangers of public Wi-Fi networks, you may be wondering how to use public Wi-Fi safely. But don't worry because we have several tips you can follow to protect yourself on any public wireless network. Note:
Everything I have highlighted here does not mean that all public wireless networks are bad or insecure. This is just a reminder that you should be careful when using such networks.

1. Use a VPN:

The first thing I would recommend for anyone who wants to use public Wi-Fi is to install a VPN or virtual private network client on their device. So, does a VPN protect you on public Wi-Fi? Short answer, yes. A VPN will reduce security risks by encrypting outgoing and incoming data on your device using a secure server. This way, everyone connected to the same Wi-Fi network will not be able to steal your data or see what you are doing. Of course, a VPN does more than just encrypt your connection and protect you from hackers. There are so many uses for VPN that you will be surprised.

2. Stick to HTTPS only sites:

Make sure you only stick to websites with SSL certificates. So why is this important? When you use an SSL certificate to browse websites, cyber criminals and certain networks will not be able to see what you are doing. Websites with an SSL certificate usually have \"HTTPS\" at the beginning of the URL, while those without encryption have \"HTTP\" instead.

3. Avoid sensitive information:

Be careful what you do when connected to public Wi-Fi. You can browse the web for articles, videos, and other content that doesn't require you to reveal your sensitive information.
Avoid making purchases that involve entering your credit or debit card details. Avoid any registration or login that requires you to enter a password or disclose personal information.

4. Turn off file sharing:

You don't want some stranger to have access to your personal information, do you? Then just disable file sharing. With file sharing, anyone on this public network can access your folders and use your files for whatever they want!
To disable file sharing on a PC, go to the Network and Sharing Center, Change advanced sharing settings, and then disable file and printer sharing. To do the same on a Mac, go to System Preferences, click Sharing, and then uncheck Everything.

5. Get anti-virus software:

Antivirus software will help reduce the risk of spyware, malware, and other security threats on public Wi-Fi. It will scan your device for popular music tracks that may be hiding in plain sight.

6. Change your Wi-Fi settings:

It is very important to configure the wireless connection on your device so that it does not directly connect to a public location. When your Wi-Fi is set to "connect automatically" to an open network, your device can connect to a malicious network without your knowledge, which, in turn, will give hackers run free time full data on your device.
Also, you can forget the open network you have connected to in the past so that your smartphone or PC does not connect to that network immediately when you are nearby.

7. Update to the latest operating system:

Always check for the latest operating system updates available for your device. Why is this important? When you update your app to the latest version, you will be sure to get the latest security patches that will protect your device from damage or major updates.

8. Always read what you sign up for:

This is the last on the list but not the least. I did this last because many of us fail in this area. Before you start using a public Wi-Fi connection, be sure to read the attached terms and conditions to know what you're signing up for. Not all WiFi is really free.
When you read the policies and procedures of the network you want to use, you will get an idea of ​​what data is collected, how it is used, and anything that may be red flags. Also, you can easily search the internet for words you don't understand.


Free public Wi-Fi is tempting. I mean, who wouldn't want a free internet connection without paying? Who. If you follow the steps in this article, your security level will be high and thus reduce the risk of hacking.