Three Things You Should Avoid on Public Wi-Fi

June 30, 2016

Free public Wi-Fi is something most mobile users seek out, especially when a lot of us have limited data on our wireless plans.

It’s important to know that some activities on public Wi-Fi can make you vulnerable to losing personal information, or even money, to cyber criminals.

Here are three things you shouldn’t do on an unsecured public Wi-Fi network:

  1. Personal Banking

    Your online banking app or site is encrypted, so why would it be vulnerable to snooping?

    When you connect to a Wi-Fi network in a public place, like an airport or café, you should assume the connection is unsecured (unencrypted) unless you are asked to log in with a password. On an unsecured network, people could see what sites you visit and this can put you at risk for a number of threats like phishing. It’s best to leave personal banking for when you are on a secure network.

  2. Credit Card Transactions

    On public Wi-Fi, criminals can intercept web traffic to steal credit card numbers and other sensitive information. If you plan to shop when on an unsecured network, at least make sure the site has an “https” URL, which means it’s a secure site. But as a general rule, only use your credit card on networks and sites you can trust.

  3. Anything Involving Personal Information

    If you wouldn’t say it out loud in a crowd, don’t put it on public Wi-Fi.

    Online forms, job applications, and even dating sites might ask people to share personal information (full name, date of birth, address), as well as things like place of employment, salary, or social insurance number.

    All of these bits of information can be used in online identity or financial theft. It’s best to save these activities for secure sites and secure Wi-Fi.

What if you really need to make transactions on the go?

The easiest way to be sure of a secure connection is to use your own mobile data connection, for example, through your wireless plan provider, as these networks are generally more secure than Wi-Fi.

See our tip sheet for simple reminders on how to be #WiseFi.

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