Free public Wi-Fi can be compared to free public restrooms. While a wireless hot spot may be very appealing, particularly when you are out and about without a data connection, you must remember to use caution just as you would no matter how desperately you might need to access a public restroom.
It might be a good idea to review some important tips with your family members, including children who are heading off to school or doing any sort of traveling. Anyone using a laptop, smart phone or tablet needs to be aware of some of the dangers lurking out there, so it is important to use some safety tips in order to choose a network wisely.
Make certain that the network you connect to is legitimate, not just a facade for someone who wants to intercept your data. How can you be sure it's legit?
If you are out in public, such as in a restaurant, coffee shop or even at the public library, verify the name of the network they are offering for free. Many places post the name of the network on signs, or ask a staff member to be sure. There are bad guys out there who will establish a network called "Free Wi-Fi" or incorporate the name of a nearby business to the locations that you are visiting to deceive people into believing it is legitimate.
Make certain that your device is set up to practice safe surfing. Turn off file sharing when connecting to a public network using the settings options for your device.
Always check for HTTPS when you are browsing. That little lock in your browser can help make sure it is secure. It is possible to obtain an app, or an extension that will force your browser to only use HTTPS.
Keep up to date. Stick to good patching habits to make certain that your browser and Internet connected device are current with the latest versions to ensure your safety.
One word of caution: never perform or accept updates on public Wi-Fi. Remember, there are bad guys out there who can prompt your device to update a software package that will install malware on your device if you accept the update. Only enable updates on trusted networks either at work or at home.
This is just a sampling of the safety precautions you can use. There are more steps that can be followed to practice safe surfing, for you and especially those vulnerable youngsters. Subscribe to our digital parenting blog to continue learning!