You’re sitting in an airport, waiting to board your flight, when you decide to casually check your work email to see if your boss sent over that important file you’ve been waiting for. In this case, would you be willing to allow everyone around you to see the sensitive document in question? If your answer is “no,” then you likely don’t want just anyone to have access to your personal information. This is just one of the risks of using public Wi-Fi. So, is public Wi-Fi safe and, if it isn’t, what can you do about it? In this article, we’ll explore the best way to protect yourself, and your important data, while using a public Wi-Fi connection.

Is Public Wi-Fi Safe?

The answer: it depends. 

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to take advantage of potential victims. They look for places where personal devices are both in use and vulnerable to attacks. This can include locations where free public Wi-Fi is available like coffee shops, restaurants, malls, and airports. However, these weak network connections aren’t the only places where cybercriminals strike. Even hospitals, schools, and offices are experiencing waves of cybersecurity attacks.

When it comes to the safety of public Wi-Fi, you’re only as secure as the connection itself. Public Wi-Fi networks have lower security thresholds to allow more people to access them. This is what makes them such a prime target for cybersecurity attacks. But even in places where you feel like you may be protected, such as on campus or at your place of business, there is still a significant risk of a potential attack if the Wi-Fi connection isn’t protected. 

The Risks of Public Wi-Fi

The topic of cybersecurity risk focuses mainly on the repercussions of experiencing an online attack. These can appear in many forms. For instance, you may experience a malware threat that keeps you from accessing your personal files. Some attacks may prevent you from using your device altogether. Other risks may include having your personal information compromised, resulting in identity theft. 

Unfortunately, the list of potential risks from public Wi-Fi is longer than we have time to list. This is mainly because cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to exploit networks with weak connections and devices with reduced security. Ultimately, this is why it’s so important to learn how to protect yourself on public Wi-Fi no matter where you are. 

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How to Protect Yourself on Public Wi-Fi

Your personal device has access to a wide range of information about you that could be disastrous if it fell into the wrong hands. Financial data and private information are likely to be the first things targeted by a cybercriminal, which is why it’s so necessary to keep them safe. Take a look at the following tips for protecting yourself on public Wi-Fi networks.

  • Secure your device with a passcode or biometric lock
  • Use a strong, reliable password on all of your accounts and devices 
  • Activate two-factor authentication for your personal profiles
  • Install a powerful VPN on all of your personal devices
  • Use antivirus software to remove new security threats
  • Never leave your device unattended in a public place
  • Avoid completing financial transactions on free Wi-Fi
  • Ensure that your devices are up to date with the latest software

Although there’s no way to truly keep your device 100% safe, you can, at the very least, give yourself top-of-the-line security. It’s impossible to predict every new way that cybercriminals plan their attacks but, with these tips, you can at least begin protecting yourself and your data from some of the more common threats and risks. 

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