Five things to watch out for in a public WiFi network

Of course you prefer to go on WiFi that is known. When you are at home, you know what you have with your WiFi. Along the way it is slightly different. Some people grab the hotspot from their phone, but you don’t do that when you’re in New York, for example. For example, you can go to the Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, but that is not always safe. We give you some tips to watch out for when you go on a public WiFi network.

Check what other apps are sharing

There are applications such as AirDrop or Dropbox that immediately start synchronizing as soon as you are online again. This not only ensures that you put extra strain on the connection: it also sends all information about that network on which all unknown people also surf. If you surf on a laptop at the Network and Sharing Center, check the Advanced Sharing Settings and make sure that File and Printer Sharing is disabled. With Macbooks you will find the same with System Preferences and then Sharing. Make sure you deselect everything.

Search for known names

If you are in a coffee shop of a well-known chain, Wi-Fi is often offered there. Make sure you always check with the staff if you choose the right wifi. There is a good chance that the Wi-Fi in such a coffee place can be trusted better than anyone else. Such a company offers it as a service for the coffee or tea that you purchase, which reduces the chance that it is an unreliable network. Also check at airports at the staff if you choose the right Wi-Fi network, because there are also smart guys who create a dangerous network with a name that is very similar.

Computer and coffee

Keep the number of networks as small as possible

If you are on the network at a well-known fast food chain abroad and you travel further, for example, if you really have to do something on the internet again, try going back to the same chain. The fewer foreign networks you access via your device, the better. With some Wi-Fi networks you even have to like something on Facebook: for that reason alone it is advisable to stick to as few networks as possible. In any case, it is always not advisable to use Wi-Fi networks that want your telephone number or other personal information.

No public WiFi network is completely watertight

When you log in to a public WiFi network, always try to do only what is necessary. There are limits to this too. Internet banking or reading highly confidential documents is not recommended on such an unknown network. Also make sure that you only go to websites with https before them, so for example Then you know that you are on a secure website, where others on the same WiFi network cannot see the data that you send and receive via the network.

Smartphone travel

Use a VPN

It sounds very complicated, but using a VPN is very easy. With a VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, all data that you send is automatically encrypted. You make contact with a secure server via the VPN and the Wi-Fi network on which you surf. This makes it difficult for malicious people to see who you are and where you come from. There are major differences between one and the other VPN service, but we have listed various VPN services here on Techzle that function well. Note that in some countries the use of VPN services is prohibited, so check this if you want to use it precisely abroad.

If, in addition to the above, you also ensure that the devices that you use to access the Wi-Fi network are provided with the most recent updates, then you can probably use a public Wi-Fi network securely – but again, it is completely watertight. And as a last tip: as soon as you no longer need WiFi, switch off your WiFi.


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