How to stay secure when using public Wi-Fi

Tips & tricks
1 min

Free Wi-Fi isn’t hard to find. It’s available in airports, cafes, hotels, malls, and many other public places. But before you connect, consider the security risks. The Wi-Fi admin could try to see what you’re looking at, or a man-in-the-middle attacker could be trying to intercept your data transmissions.

Read more: How to get free Wi-Fi and internet anywhere

Public Wi-Fi security risks

Because public Wi-Fi networks are often open, unsecured networks, there are various types of cyberattacks that connections over these networks are particularly susceptible to. These attacks can allow third parties to see what you’re doing online, possibly stealing sensitive information like passwords and bank details.

Precautions when using public Wi-Fi hotspots

1. Use a VPN

The easiest solution is to use a VPN, which encrypts your traffic, shielding it from snoops and keeping your activity private.

You could download a VPN app to all your devices. But if you have numerous devices (for instances, if your family is staying in a hotel together), you could consider our Aircove Go portable router. Just connect Aircove Go to the public Wi-Fi network, and all your devices using the router will enjoy the benefits of VPN, including strong encryption and location changes. (You must have an active ExpressVPN subscription to use the VPN functionality of Aircove routers.)

2. Avoid accessing bank accounts

Possibly the most sensitive accounts you access online are banking and other financial services. Best not to log in to them over public Wi-Fi.

3. Use antivirus software 

Antivirus software will often alert you when you’re entering a suspicious network or if any suspicious activity is detected. It also protects your devices against unpatched and outdated systems. 

4. Don’t open password managers or cloud backups 

We talked a little about why you should avoid accessing online banking sites while on public Wi-Fi, and the same goes for sites like password managers, cloud backups, and anything that requires you to log in to important accounts. 

5. Connect via LAN

From a security standpoint, using an Ethernet cable makes your connection way more secure. Attacking a device over an Ethernet requires a hacker to gain access to its cable and router, so it’s definitely not as easy as intercepting Wi-Fi traffic. If you are worried enough when going online in, say, a hotel, take along an Ethernet cable for your laptop.

Read more: Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi: Which is better?

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