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How To Connect To Public Hotspots Safely

Hotspots

If you’re traveling today, you’re bound to come across more free public Wi-fi Hotspots than ever before. They can be great for getting work finished, managing your social media accounts and just staying connected to your world. You can find them in Panera’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks, your dentist and doctors office but they come at a risk. Public networks can also be a major security risk. Here’s what you need to know when using free public wi-fi and how to keep yourself safe.

Read The Terms and Conditions Of The Hotspots

In your eagerness to connect you may be tempted to just click through the welcome screen. You should be very careful to check what you might be signing up for.

It pays to read through these in full before deciding whether web access is worth the information you’re giving up. If you have an alternative email address now is a good time to use it.

LTE Connections

For mobile phones or tablets with cellular data, LTE connections are much more secure than hotspots. Turn off the wi-fi on your device and browse away, knowing that your data is safe.

It will eat into your data cap but not really too much as long as you’re not streaming video. If you have unlimited data on your plan it won’t be a problem.

Install a VPN app

On the open, unsecured wi-fi networks that run in many coffee shops and hotels—the only real way to protect yourself is to install a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

VPN’s reroute your traffic through dedicated encrypted servers. Either pay up for a reputable VPN service or go with a well know free one. Most of them offer apps for laptops and mobile phones.

You don’t need to be a technical genius to use them, the magic takes place behind the scenes. Just install them on your device and start using them.

I won’t go into a full VPN comparison but you can check out PC Magazine’s “The Best VPN Services of 2017”.

These come highly recommended and offer some free options as well. You’ll find most support, iOS, Android, Mac and Windows.

Extra Tips

Don’t download or install anything while on a public network. Make sure that your system software is up to date. If you’re on a laptop turn off file and folder sharing with other devices on the network.

When you’re finished using the network log out of any websites and tell your laptop or iPhone to “Forget This Network”.

Conclusion

Fortunately the bigger and more established free wi-fi providers are making efforts to minimize security risks. Coffee shops and hotels are hiring external firms who know what they’re doing when it comes to security.

Don’t be afraid to connect while out and about—just make sure you know what you’re doing.

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