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How to stay safe when using public Wi-Fi

A good Wi-Fi signal comes just above water and just below air in the ‘hierarchy of needs’ of today’s digital nomad..

When you’re out in town (or miles from nowhere) and spot the coveted ‘three radio waves’ icon, the relief is palpable. For those without pricey 4G plans, public Wi-Fi is the only way to keep up with work and friends while out and about.

But just as you wouldn’t sip water from a public tap unless you were pretty sure it was safe to drink, you need to be cautious about the Wi-Fi networks you dial into. Most of us don’t take precautions – and that’s one reason why cyber-crime and hacking are so prevalent.

One of the most common ways that hackers can access your data is through a ‘man in the middle’ attack. The hacker finds a security flaw in the cafe or shopping centre’s router, and exploits it to access the data that passes between you and the hub.

To reduce the chances of getting ‘man-in-the-middled’, you need to check whether the public network you want to use is secured or unsecured before you join it. A quarter of all public Wi-Fi hotspots are entirely unencrypted. So, only use networks that require a log-in and password.

But even the most secure-seeming public networks are targeted by hackers. So you can also improve security on your end, by avoiding signing in to sensitive websites (such as online banking) while away from home. If you must sign in on the go, try to maintain different passwords for each account you use, and always sign out when you’ve finished what you’re doing.

Public Wi-Fi is a precious resource! It’s great to have it around. But while nobody ‘expects’ to get hacked, millions are each year – so why not tune up your online security with our new guide to staying safe on public Wi-Fi?

The benefits of Wi-Fi-on-the-go only outweigh the risks until trouble strikes. With the right precautions, you can seriously reduce the chances of that happening.

How to stay safe on public wifi

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Symantec. (2017). 2017 Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report. symantec.com

Kaspersky. (2019). Public Wi-Fi Security. kaspersky.co.uk

Symantec. (2018). The risks of public Wi-Fi. symantec.com

Symantec. (2018). The dos and don’ts of using public Wi-Fi. symantec.com

Norton. (2019). Password Generator. norton.com

Norton. (2018). 8 ways to protect your private information online. norton.com

Kaspersky. (2016). Research on unsecured Wi-Fi networks across the world. securelist.com

Nield, D. (2018). Simple Steps To Protect Yourself On Public Wi-Fi. wired.com

Federal Trade Commission. (2018). Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Networks. ftc.gov

Symantec. (2017). 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report. symantec.com

Miller, T. (2013). Do I Really Need to Log Out of Webapps?. lifehacker.com

This post was brought to you by Budget Direct Home Insurance

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