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Safeguards for Using Public Wi-Fi

Let’s run down the do’s and don’ts of using public Wi-Fi.

Since starting Wise Choices TM, I do a lot of traveling, so I have no choice but to sometimes produce my professional social media on unsecured public Wi-Fi. And I hate it.

I’m always shifting my eyes, darting from the hipster in the corner with the pumpkin latte to the yuppie in the booth with the chicken sandwich, wondering which one’s scanning every device in the joint for passwords or account numbers.

I used to recommend never using password-activated sites on public Wi-Fi, period. But since social media is so pervasive, here’s what I do: I log into every one of my social accounts through a secure, private Wi-Fi — at my house, my office, etc. — then carry my laptop or device to the public Wi-Fi location. That way, I’m already logged in. I won’t be typing my usernames and passwords on my devices while on the public settings. There is still a risk of password or identity theft, but not as much as when you’re logging into your social accounts directly through an unsecured network.

As for your banking or shopping sites, those are non-negotiable. You should never surf your banking sites or shopping sites on public Wi-Fi, nor should you ever use your debit or credit card on public Wi-Fi. Actually, you should never use your debit card for online purchases on secure Wi-Fi, either. Only trust the built-in security of your credit card for online shopping every time.

Always ignore pop-ups or prompts to download software while browsing on public Wi-Fi. They are often hacker bait to get you to click and launch spyware or malware.

You might consider bulking up the security software on your laptop before you travel. Trust expert-recommended software from or to protect your computer from sketchy Wi-Fi at airports or hotels.

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