Public WiFi – The Do’s and Don’ts

Public WiFi is everywhere – sometimes free, sometimes paid for; airports, trains, coffee shops, hotels, pubs – they’re all at it!  But you know what they old saying goes, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”!

Many people don’t give accessing Public WiFi a second thought, but what are the risks?


Public WiFi is very insecure, a goldmine for hackers who want to steal your identity and commit fraud, access your social media accounts, destroy your website and a whole number of other dodgy intentions. They can do this many ways, including intercepting your activity with an imposter website where you input your login details, which then falls on to the the hackers lap.

Indeed public WiFi will always be a risky place to go online so long as its owners, such as the coffee shop; find that enabling security features hampers ease of use for their customers.

So even if you don’t do online banking or shopping whilst connected to Public WiFi, the wrong person can still see all your emails.

DO when using Public WiFi

  • Make sure your devices are installed with anti-virus, anti-malware and a secure firewall; and that all are current and up to date,
  • Prior to when using public WiFi, consider the nature and amount of sensitive data on your device, maybe remove it (and back it up externally).
  • Make sure the hotspot is legitimate; speak to the establishment manager if you’re unsure. Cyber criminals could set up hotspots as spoofs quite easily.
  • Sit against a wall or in a corner so that nobody can see what’s on your screen.
  • If you can’t sit somewhere with privacy, be aware of who’s around you and perhaps even cover your hand when typing in login information.
  • Use a privacy screen; this makes it impossible for a “shoulder surfer” to see what’s on your screen while they peak over your shoulder or from the side.
  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). It will encrypt all of your online transactions, making them impossible to decipher by cyber criminals, whether it’s login information, user names, passwords or email correspondence. Even your IP address will be concealed. Liberty Shield is a VPN provider, and is compatible with Mac, PC, iOS and Android, quietly running in the background after it’s installed.

Don’t when using Public WiFi

  • Don’t let your device connect with the first network that it finds automatically. Instead, select the network you want to connect with and if necessary ask the establishment manager what their official WiFi network SSID name is.
  • Do not keep your WiFi enabled if you’re not using it, disconnect and work offline.
  • Do not have file sharing enabled.
  • Can you wait until you’re in a secure location to do banking and other business transactions? No matter how bored you are waiting at the airport or wherever, do not do banking, login to corporate systems  and other sensitive activities.
  • Don’t engage in any serious or sensitive email communications.
  • Never leave your devices unattended for a single second. Not only can someone walk off with them, but a thief can insert a key logger that records all of your keystrokes.