Free Wi-Fi is awesome, no doubts here. But public networks hide numerous hazards, including even the risk of losing all the funds in your bank account.
The only foolproof way to protect yourself from data theft is to use mobile traffic to make online purchases or Internet banking. A few paid megabytes are a reasonable price for your account safety.
By turning off Wi-Fi, you resolve three issues at once: rapid discharge of your battery, automatic connection to a fraudulent network, and annoying ad emails. For additional protection against the latter, add an extension called "DoNotTrackMe" to your browser — it won’t let the device track your movements.
VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to stay anonymous while online: websites you enter will see the virtual network IP, not yours.
Such networks, though, are mostly paid, and they slow down your connection. However, the price is usually not that high, and most VPN providers still have free services too.
Most devices will automatically remember and connect to the hotspot they used at least once before. Frauds could create their own access point with the same name and thus get access to your profile data or even, with certain artifice, to your finances.
Hackers often use networks with names similar to ones already in the vicinity. The only difference is that an authentic hotspot requires payment or authorization/password, while a fake one is free to use. So before connecting to a free network, ask its owner for its name first.
Always use the latest antivirus versions. There are new ways of hacking appearing almost every day, and your antivirus should stay up to date. Besides, antivirus software warns you of possible fake hotspot connections.
A network that doesn’t require any additional actions to connect is possibly a fraudulent one. To stay on the safe side, choose a hotspot that requires you to enter a code sent as a text message to your phone. This will protect you from criminals duplicating the names of free networks.
Despite it being seemingly obvious that you shouldn’t write down your passwords in your devices, many do just that. Such carelessness makes it much easier for criminals to get access to your data. If you’d still like to store passwords on your media device, at least use a "password manager" that encrypts information in it.
Fake networks might also redirect you to well-known websites, except those are really only collecting your personal data. If you see any weird characters in a familiar website’s URL, it most likely means that this website is not authentic. Google.com and ɢoogle.com aren’t the same thing. Make sure to use a reliable and secure browser because a good browser will detect such differences and warn you.
A safe connection is simple to identify: the URL starts with https:// instead of the usual http://. Some websites, like Google, always use a secure connection to transfer data.
If you want all websites to be secure, think of installing the "HTTPS Everywhere" extension, compatible with all popular browsers.