9 Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi while Traveling this Summer

Jul 8, 2013 8:00am


If you’re vacationing this summer, chances are you’ll encounter a Wi-Fi hotspot or two.

Wi-Fi in airports, hotels, train stations, coffee shops and other public places may seem like an added perk and are convenient, but they’re often not secure and can leave you at risk.

First and foremost, you should be cautious of connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots.  Connect with care. If you're online through an unsecured or unprotected network, be cautious about the sites you visit and the information you release.

Here are 9 tips to remember when using public Wi-Fi this summer travel season:

  • STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Take security precautions, understand the consequences of your actions and behaviors and enjoy the benefits of the Internet.
  • Keep a clean machine. Having the latest security software, operating system, web browser and apps is the best way to protect yourself from the malware and other threats you may encounter when using public Wi-Fi.
  • Don’t assume that the Wi-Fi connection is secure. In fact, most hotspots don’t encrypt the information you send over the Internet.  Watch this video from OnGuardOnline.gov to learn more. 
  • When entering personal information over the Internet (logging into email or social networking sites or banking or shopping), make sure the website is encrypted. Encrypted websites use https://.  Look for https:// on every page, not just the login or welcome page.  You can force a website to https:// by adding the “s” in front of URL.
  • Avoid connecting to hotspots that don’t seem legitimate or are misspelled.  It’s not uncommon for cybercriminals to set up Wi-Fi hotspots called “free Wi-Fi” in airports and hotels.
  • Remember, a 3G/4G connection is safer than an unsecured Wi-Fi connection when shopping, banking and using other websites that access personal information.
  • Consider turning off features on your computer or mobile devices that allow you to automatically connect to Wi-Fi.
  • Turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it. Bluetooth-enabled devices like headsets and wireless keyboards are great accessories for traveling, but can leave you and your personal information at risk. When these devices are not in use, turn off the Bluetooth setting on your phone or tablet. If you leave the functionality on, cybercriminals can pair with your device's open connection and steal personal information.

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