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How to Stay Safe Using Public Wi-Fi

These days, so many of us are on the go and public Wi-Fi becomes almost a necessity in order to get work done.

We may even seek out those places that offer “free” Wi-Fi, just so we can catch up on email. Of course, when you use these convenient connections, you put yourself at risk for identity theft and hackers. There are some quick tips we can offer in order to minimize your risk.

To begin with, be sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and antispyware software, use strong passwords and never turn-off your firewall. If your software is not current, do not update your software using public Wi-Fi, wait until you are at a protected location. Once your device is secure, carefully select which public network you wish to access versus having your device do it automatically (you may need to turn-off auto-connect on your smartphone). Note, it is much better if the access to the public Wi-Fi is password-protected (even if it is a bit of a pain). Be sure that the network name is legitimate; ask your server, or check with an employee of the business offering the free Wi-Fi.

Avoid accessing your bank account or making on-line purchases. Just hold off on doing these particular transactions until you are at a secure location (such as home). However, if you must share sensitive information on-line, look for the locked padlock in the address bar of your web browser. This means the information submitted to that particular website was encrypted. It’s not fail-safe but it is an extra layer of protection. Seek out websites that begin with https: (“s” stands for secure).

Again, while there is no absolute solution for stopping those that wish to steal your information, barring turning off all of your devices, or paying for identity theft protection from companies such as LifeLock and Identity Guard, you can limit your risk by taking precautions. Please feel free to contact Steven DeBlieck, Manager of Information Systems at SK&Co., should you have additional questions.