How safe are free Wi-Fi spots?

Not many people truly understand the public Wi-Fi risks associated with these free wireless connections. Learning how to protect yourself will help ensure your important personal & business data remains safe from hackers & other security threats. One of the favourite methods used by online criminals to get to your credentials is by using wireless sniffers to access data sent over unprotected networks.


Here are some safeguards to help:

Beware of Fake Wi-Fi networks

These are made to trick people into connecting to them. Once connected, your activity is monitored by Cybercriminals who scan your activity for banking, email and social media login information. Cybercriminals can easily plant viruses and malware threats onto your computer/phone/device without you knowing via the un-secure Wi-Fi connection which can jeopardise your personal information or cause damage to your computer/device.

Don't be afraid to ask an employee for their legitimate Wi-Fi connection/name

To avoid connecting to a bogus network ask for these details. Many places will have this on a card for you to take and ensure you are attempting to connect to the 'real' one. Some places will also provide you with a password to use.

Be careful where you login!

Try to avoid logging into websites where there's a chance that cybercriminals could capture your identity, passwords or personal information — such as social networking sites, online banking services or any websites that store your credit card information.


If you must make a sensitive transaction, only use secure websites that have:

  • https:// instead of http:// at the start of the address;(the 's' stands for secure)
  • A locked padlock or key in the browser website address bar.


For sensitive data sites, use your mobile phone

Turn off the Wi-Fi and use the data that is supplied with your mobile phone SIM account instead; this is a more secure method.

It's also important to turn OFF Sharing

If you leave it turned on while in a public place, cybercriminals can easily gain access and steal your personal information and files.

Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A VPN encrypts (converts into code) your private information. This makes it very hard for criminals to de-crypt (de-code). Even if a hacker manages to position himself in the middle of your connection, the data here will be strongly encrypted through the use of the VPN. Since most hackers are after an easy target, they'll likely discard stolen information rather than put it through a long complicated decryption process.

Remember to keep Wi-Fi Off When You Don't Need It

Even if you haven't actively connected to a network, the Wi-Fi hardware in your computer is still transmitting data between any networks within range. There are security measures in place to prevent this from compromising you, but not all wireless routers are the same, and hackers can be a pretty smart bunch.

Use Aeroplane Mode

If you're just using your computer to work on a Word or Excel document, Aeroplane Mode suspends radio-frequency signal transmission by the device, thereby disabling Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and telephony. As a bonus, you'll also experience a much longer battery life. You can also use it as a way to let your child safely play a game on your phone.