Finding free WiFi is becoming easier and easier. In fact, many major companies have added the feature to their storefronts as a way to draw customers. But while free WiFi can be a boon to working professionals, travelers and college students alike, you should be aware that public WiFi also comes with security risks. Here are some ways for you to find free WiFi as well as a few things that you need to keep in mind when you are making a public WiFi connection:
How to Find Free Wi-Fi Hotspots When Traveling
If you're looking for free WiFi, you need not look any further than two of America's favorite restaurant chains: Starbucks and McDonald's. These two restaurants almost always have WiFi available at all of their locations. But you don't have to be limited to these options, libraries, grocery stores and department stores are also starting to add hotspots to their locations.
Keep in mind, however, that free doesn't always mean you don't have to purchase anything. Some restaurants require that you make a purchase before you can get the login code to use their hotspot. Hotels may also offer free WiFi if you are lodging with them. If you need help locating a hotspot, there are tons of mobile apps that can help you do this. Just install one of these apps and it will show you a map of nearby free Wi-Fi hotspots based off of your GPS location.
How to Avoid Public WiFi Security Risks
You should understand that there are risks associated with public WiFi connections, and you should learn how to protect yourself so that your important data remains safe. here are a few ideas that you can implement to keep you secure:
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is mandatory when you have sensitive information that you don't want compromised. Even if a hacker does manage to infiltrate your connection, your data will be heavily encrypted, making things difficult for a hacker. Hackers are often looking for easy targets and will likely discard your information rather than endure a lengthy and risky decryption process.
The Risks of an Open Network
On an open network, a hacker has the ability to place themselves in between you and the connection point. All of the information that you think you are sending out to websites are going directly to the hacker, including passwords, credit card information and more.
Hackers also use unsecured connections to distribute malware and viruses on your computer, putting them in a position to steal your information at a later date.
Turn Off Sharing
If you're using a public network, it's unlikely that you want to or need to share anything. Therefore, it would be advantageous to choose the public option when you are asked what type of network you are connecting to.
Keep WiFi Off When You Don't Need It
Even if you haven't connected to a network, if your WiFi is on, your computer is still transmitting data to any network in range. In order to minimize the risk of your computer being hijacked by a hacker, keep the WiFi turned off when you aren't using it.
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