With Wi-Fi enabled smartphones, tablets and laptops everywhere, free Wi-Fi hotspots seem to be everywhere too. Free Wi-Fi saves you from drawing on your mobile data plan limit, but there are security risks. Hackers on the same free hotspot can make all traffic flow through their computers. They can access websites you visit, your unencrypted passwords and more. They can gather information to use for identity theft and fraud, with severe consequences.
1. Don't use free Wi-Fi unless you absolutely have to. Use your mobile network's data service and pay for higher digital limits if need be. Spending a few more dollars per month for your data plan is cheap insurance for the money you could lose from fraud or identity theft.
2. Use a secure VPN service. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts information going from your computer to the Internet, so hackers can't access it. You can surf the Web securely and your personal info is safe. Just double-check that your VPN service is reputable.
3. Don't use free Wi-Fi for anything important. If you want to use free Wi-Fi for some harmless surfing while sipping a latte, fine. Just don't do any online banking, don't use a credit card and don't go to any site that asks for a password. Yes, that includes social media!