Public Wi-Fi Best Practices

October 21, 2015

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month in the U.S. Throughout the month, we will send you tips and best practices on a different cybersecurity topic. Today's topic is Public Wi-Fi.

Public Wi-Fi networks are conveniently available in common locations such as coffee shops, hotels, and building lobbies. However, public Wi-Fi is inherently insecure and vulnerable to a cyber-attack. We recommend you keep the following best practices in mind when connecting to public Wi-Fi:

  • Assume hackers are listening at all times on Wi-Fi networks that do not require a password.
  • All laptops, tablets, and phones are at risk for an attack when connected to public Wi-Fi.
  • Never connect to an unknown Wi-Fi network, as not all connection points are legitimate.
  • Be aware of unusual Wi-Fi network names, such as those that resemble known sources (for example, “hotel” or “coffee shop”). These may be fake networks created by attackers.
  • Watch for security certificate errors, as these indicate that your connection may not be secure.
  • Don't perform banking, financial transactions, or other sensitive tasks containing personal information. These activities should only be done over a secure connection.
  • Protect your devices with up-to-date virus and malware protection software.
  • Configure Windows sharing and firewall settings to help protect your computer on public networks. See some tips here.
  • Consider using your mobile phone’s personal hotspot instead of public Wi-Fi.

If you have any questions about public Wi-Fi networks or other cybersecurity measures, please contact us at

For more information about Cyber Security Awareness month, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website.