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If you have a laptop, smartphone or tablet with wireless connectivity, you can access the Internet using Wi-Fi or wireless networks in public places such as cafés, airports and hotels.
Here are some tips to enjoy the convenience of public Wi-Fi whilst helping protect your privacy.

Turn off sharing

Ensure you disable sharing settings on your device before connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. Tablets and Smartphones don’t share at all but laptops do, therefore when you connect to a public network, make sure you select the public profile.

Avoid Automatically Connecting to Wi-Fi Hotspots

If your device is set to automatically connect to any available Wi-Fi hotspot, not only will this allow it to connect to public networks without your permission, you may also be connecting to malicious networks set up specifically to steal your information.

Confirm the Network Name

Hackers can set up fake Wi-Fi networks to attract innocent public Wi-Fi users. If you’re in a café, hotel or other public place and you’re not sure that you’re connecting to the official network, ask. Staff should know the name and password of the official network if there is one.

Check the network is secure

Wireless networks might require a password or other security key, or they might be unsecured and open to anyone with a wireless adapter close by. Make sure you connect to a secure network; Windows warns you if it’s insecure by using a yellow shield, Apple tells you it’s secure by putting a padlock on it.

Don’t type in credit card numbers or passwords

The measures mentioned above can provide some protection against identity thieves who prey on wireless networks. However, a hacker with the right tools can use the same public network to see everything you do, including the websites you visit and any passwords or information you type. It's like inviting someone to peer over your shoulder. To be truly safe, never use public networks for banking and shopping.
One more thing about wireless networks: if you've set one up at home, you should secure it too to avoid anyone within range of the signal accessing your personal files. No offense to your neighbours!
We were recently asked by a customer if we could write this column regarding security advice on connecting to public Wi-Fi. If you would like me to write about something specific in a future column, please email me at