Public Wi-Fi Networks | Federal Trade Commission


[MUSIC PLAYING] Many hotels, coffee shops,
airports, and other places offer free Wi-Fi hotspots. They’re convenient. Unfortunately, they often
aren’t secure. That could make it easy for
someone else to access your online accounts or steal your
personal information. So what can you do to
reduce your risk? Encryption is the key to keeping
your information secure online. When information is encrypted,
it’s scrambled into a code so others can’t get it. How can you be sure your
information is encrypted? Two ways. One– use a secure network to
access the internet. Don’t assume that a public Wi-Fi
network uses encryption. In fact, most don’t. You can only be sure that
a network uses effective encryption if it asks
you to provide a WPA or WPA2 password. If you aren’t sure, it’s
best to assume the network is not secure. The second way to protect your
information is to send it through a secure website. A secure site will encrypt your
information even if the network doesn’t. If the web address starts with
HTTPS, then your information is encrypted before
it is sent. The S stands for secure. Look for HTTPS on every page
you visit, not just when you log in. If you use an unsecured Wi-Fi
network to log into an unencrypted website, strangers
using that network can hijack your account and steal your
private documents, contacts, family photos, even your
username and password. If that happens, an impostor
could use your email or social networking account to pretend to
be you and scam people you care about. Or a hacker could use your
password from one website to try to log into a different
account and access your personal or financial
information. Here are some steps you can take
to protect yourself when you use a public
Wi-Fi hotspot. Only login or enter personal
information on secure sites that use encryption. Again, look for a web address
that begins with HTTPS. Don’t use the same username
and password for different sites. It could get someone who gains
access to one of your accounts access to many of
your accounts. Never email financial
information, including credit card, social security, and
checking account numbers, even if the network and website
are secure. Don’t stay permanently
signed into accounts. When you’ve finished using
a site, log out. The bottom line– secure Wi-Fi hotspots
require a password. Secure websites start
with HTTPS. Remember, it’s easy to find
trusted information about computer security. Just visit OnGuardOnline.gov,
the federal government site to help you be safe, secure,
and responsible online.

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