Using public wifi can be risky, but here's how to protect yourself

It's the first thing many of us look for in a cafe or restaurant, but public Wifi can be bad news unless you take precautions

I've been travelling around London since Monday and have signed up to countless free / public Wifi networks to check my email, send a tweet and work. While the luxury of public Wifi is to be welcomed with open arms, it's worth taking the time to ensure your device is not compromised. 

The fear with using public Wifi is that a hacker could use the open network to get into your device. Whilst on an open network, a hacker can access every piece of information sent out online through your device. This could include online banking details, email contacts and even business network security details. 

The open network can also be used to distribute malware, which could have awful implications on a device but also an entire business network. 

There are particular steps we, as users, can take to protect our devices and information whilst still enjoying the benefits of free Wifi. 

(1) HTTPS:

Where possible, only work off secure sites. Look for "https://" at the beginning of a web address. That "s" informs users that the site is secured and encrypted.

(2) Kill sharing:

Turn off 'sharing' from the system preferences or Control Panel on your device. This will mean that no information on your device will be shared. 

(3) Selected sites:

Try to limit your usage to certain sites that do not require the insertion of usernames and passwords. This is what hackers tend of seek out. If you are automatically signed into your social media platforms etc. you should be ok. 

(4) No banking:

Some security experts would recommend we avoid online banking entirely whilst on an open network. While online banking is deemed to be quite secure, potential hackers could see sensitive information that could compromise your account. 

(5) Forget it:

If you are on an open network you are unsure of, ensure you 'forget it' once you're session is complete. Simply go into your Wifi settings, tap on the network and hit forget. This will ensure your device does not auto connect if you happen to walk by or are waiting outside for a taxi.