Top 5 Safety Tips for Joining a Public Wi-Fi Network

Girl in coffee shop

Guide Your Community in Best Practices for Staying Safe on Public Wi-Fi.

The internet powers nearly everything your community members do, and it’s starting to become an expectation that they have these capabilities wherever they go. A recent study found that 82% of respondents willingly connect to free public Wi-Fi networks. 

It’s long been known that public Wi-Fi is not the safest or most secure connection for internet access, yet public Wi-Fi continues to be widespread based on offerings through local governments, coffee shops/local businesses, cable companies, and others that offer complimentary Wi-Fi. With so many hotspot options, paired with a general lack of education by community members regarding digital security, many people fall victim without knowing it. 

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Best Practices for Joining Public Wi-Fi Networks

Help your citizens stay safe in the digital realm. Take a look at our top 5 public Wi-Fi security concerns and how you can help your community navigate the internet more securely:

  • Don’t Be Fooled by Safe-sounding Public Wi-Fi Network Names: Thieves don’t walk around with a shirt that says “watch your pockets,” so why would a cybercriminal do the same in the digital world? Be careful about EVERY network, even if it seems legitimate. For example, a patron in a coffee shop might notice the business name shows up in their available Wi-Fi list, but he/she shouldn’t assume it’s operated by the business. Look to see if they have a sign that indicates what network they set up, if any, or ask one of the employees if that is their network. Many people fall victim to joining these types of networks only to have their personal information stolen and used for negative purposes.
  • Use Your Device’s Hotspot, if Possible: Wireless connectivity has come a long way within the last few years, so if someone subscribes to a hotspot service through their carrier, they should use that instead of a public Wi-Fi network. Traditionally, most people would pick Wi-Fi over wireless connectivity because of it’s faster speeds and more consistent user experience. Even if an individual doesn’t have a hotspot, 4G LTE and 5G can have incredibly fast speeds that public Wi-Fi can’t match – due to outdated technology, hardware components, limited bandwidth, etc.
  • Encryption is Key: Security professionals are getting better at trying to provide solutions that deter hacks or criminal behavior over public Wi-Fi. Encourage community members to utilize a web browser that has a high degree of encryption. Transport layer security (TLS) is used to encrypt data between the browser and the servers trying to access it. Most people will know that it’s encrypted if it has an “HTTPS” web address and usually has a padlock icon somewhere near the toolbar.
  • Enable Two-factor Authentication (2FA): This security concept is becoming more and more utilized, and is a great tool for keeping citizens’ information safe. With 2FA, another device, usually a cell phone, is used as a second step to verify access. For example, if they’re attempting to log in to their Apple ID, a message will be sent to their phone to type in a password on the device they’re trying to log in from. If a hacker comes to a 2FA option, they won’t be able to move forward because they don’t have access to the numeric code. 
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): Another solution that is becoming more practiced with digital security is the use of a virtual private network. This solution encrypts all the data traveling back and forth from the device citizens are on the internet with and makes it nearly impossible for cybercriminals to monitor and steal this information. Most VPN services come at a minimal cost per month or yearly subscription. 

Delivering Safe Wi-Fi Networks

IntelliSite can help keep your citizens continually connected while being digitally secure through our Universal IoT Gateway (UIG). One of its core features is its ability to provide WiFi access, enabling citizens to have internet access wherever they may be in the city. The UIG is small enough to fit on a lamp post or telephone pole, making it easy to provide city-wide coverage so that there aren’t any “dead zones” or interruptions to service. 

Additionally, the IntelliSite UIG is built from the ground up with safety and security in mind. When citizens join our network, they receive uncompromising security so they can search the web, stream entertainment, check email, etc. without concern of being susceptible to digital threats or hacks. With citizens joining public networks – from city parks to bus stations/bus stops – bring another level of connectivity and security to your community. 

With Intellisite, help your citizens stay safe on the internet by following our top 5 best practices, and learn more about the benefits of leveraging our UIG for fast and secure wireless internet access for your community by visiting Intellisite.io, scheduling a quick demo, or connecting with an IntelliSite expert to get started today!