Whether you’re in an airport, hotel or coffee shop (or maybe all of the above!) you’re likely to encounter public Wi-Fi. While it seems easy and convenient, avoid the temptation! Connecting to “free” public Wi-Fi means you are connecting to an unencrypted network, leaving your computer open for others to gain access.

Next time you are offered free, public Wi-Fi, take the following into consideration:

  • Hackers can set up a fake network.

    Say you’re sitting in the airport and need to shoot off a few emails. Would you think twice about connecting to a network called “Public Wi-Fi” or one that has the airport’s name in the network name? Unfortunately, when you connect to these fake networks, data thieves have access to your hard drive and can now install malware or software that logs your keystrokes. That is why it is recommended to never access pages that contain your personal information, such as online banking, while connected to a public Wi-Fi.

  • Tether to your smartphone.

    Depending on your cellular plan and provider, you may have the ability to use your smartphone to supply password-protected Internet access to other electronic devices. You can learn more about tethering here.

Before you venture out, update your computer’s settings. Make sure that you have your firewall enabled, you have disabled file and printer sharing and that your anti-virus software is up to date.

To avoid the temptation to surf the web from public Wi-Fi consider a service such as Boingo. For a monthly fee, you can securely access “more than 1 million hotspots… around the world.”