a painted sign on a pillar in a beach restaurants advertising free public Wi-Fi inside.

3 Tips on How to Use Public Wi-Fi Safely

Public Wi-Fi is easy to access in today’s world, but are there risks to using these free networks? There can be. That’s why it’s important to know some basic safety tips to make sure you aren’t taken advantage of when using public Wi-Fi.  


How Safe is Public Wi-Fi Networks?

Public Wi-Fi networks are not as secure as your private ones at home. You don’t know who set up the network or who is connecting to the same public Wi-Fi. One of the main security threats when using public Wi-Fi is “man-in-the-middle” (MITM) attacks. These attacks intercept network traffic between a user and a target website. To minimize the threat of a MITM attack, it’s a good idea to try and use your smartphone as a hotspot if you can. If not, you can still use Public Wi-Fi networks and limit safely with a few safety tips. 


Public Wi-Fi Safety Tips

There are ways to keep yourself safe while using public Wi-Fi. Follow these tips when you are unable to use your private network or your smartphone as a hotspot.


Use Trusted Networks

No public Wi-Fi networks are 100% secure, mainly because it depends on who’s on while you are than who provides it. But if you can, use a well-known network like Starbucks or other networks where the company offering the Wi-Fi gives you a password after purchase. These are much safer than the random Wi-Fi networks that pop up in a shopping mall or are run by a third party. 


Keep Your Traffic Encoded

Another way to keep yourself safe while using public Wi-Fi is by making sure that the traffic is encrypted. Some common encryption protocols are secure sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS). These encryption tools will add a layer of security for communication over a network.



Make sure that the public Wi-Fi network you are using begins with “https://”. Google Chrome lets you know when a site you may be on is an unencrypted HTTP connection and will label the website in the URL bar as “Not Secure.” Watch for these warnings when you are on a public Wi-Fi network. Most browsers today also show whether a connection is secure by using a lock or chain icon.


Even with public Wi-Fi being insecure, it’s possible to use these networks safely by using these safety tricks. For more ways on how to keep your network secure, check out our other blogs on network security.


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