14 Things You Should Never Do When Using Public Wi-Fi
Technology is amazing and we've all grown used to being able to connect with the rest of the world at just the touch of our fingertips. But what are the dangers of all that connectivity? And are you taking the precautions you should?
Ignoring your surroundings
Protecting yourself isn't just about what hackers can see when you're online, it's also about they might see walking right past you. "While we surf or work in public locations, it wouldn't be hard for others to look over our shoulders and watch you enter your user names, passwords, read your emails, view the sites you visit and more," says Thompson, encouraging users to always ensure their back isn't to anyone when they're surfing online. "You wouldn't let someone watch you enter your PIN number at the ATM, right?" This is the same thing…
Forgetting to update
"While not directly related to Wi-Fi security, vulnerabilities in your favorite apps or browsers are frequently used by hackers to steal information," Lapidus explains. That's why it's important to make sure all your apps are up to date, as those updates often contain security patches meant to protect you from those invasions. You can even set up automatic app updates in most operating systems so that those updates happen seamlessly as soon as they're available.
One of the main things people do with their phones while out and about is check their social media networks. But even that's a mistake, according to Paige Hanson, chief of identity education at Norton LifeLock. "Even if you're simply logging in to check your Facebook account, cybercriminals can intercept your username and password, and use that to try and access other accounts," she says. While you're at it, this is why you should never, ever link your phone number to your Facebook account.
Failing to use a VPN
If you're going to use the Internet from public Wi-Fi locations, all our experts agreed you need a Virtual Private Network (VPN). "A VPN will encrypt all your data, making it incomprehensible for attackers," says Lapidus. "But make sure you check out any VPN provider you plan to use to make sure they're reliable."
Even with a VPN, Brill advises users to "be mindful of 'clever' social engineering tactics. An attacker armed with basic information they captured by intercepting your online activity or even from your social media profiles may call over the phone and use the information they've stolen to convince you that you need to give them more information or send them money." You'll also want to familiarize yourself with these cybersecurity secrets hackers don't want you to know.