If you have a laptop, tablet or smartphone with wireless connectivity, you can get complimentary access to the Internet in all kinds of places from coffee shops to airports, but there are security concerns. So before you log on, here are some things to consider to protect your privacy.
- Don't make online purchases or access your bank account. If you don't want someone getting a hold of your banking information or credit card number, it's best not to access your accounts when connected to public Wi-Fi.
- Double-check the network name. Sometimes thieves will set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots with legitimate sounding names. You access the fake network and they get access to your data. Double-check the network name with a server, barrista or other employee before logging on.
- Turn auto-connect off. Many smartphones have a setting that will allow these devices to automatically connect to any open Wi-Fi network. Check your phone's settings to make sure this feature is turned off.
- Switch up your passwords. Don't use the same password for all of your online accounts. This way if one account is compromised, the rest stay safe.
- Look for the lock. A locked padlock in the address bar of your web browser means the information submitted to that particular site is encrypted. While this provides an extra layer of security when connected to public Wi-Fi, it's not fail-safe. Don't share information online that you wouldn't be comfortable sharing with the person sitting at the table next to you.
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2011-2014.