For all of the coffee house warriors out there here are a few tips to keep in mind to protect you and your data while using public Wifi.
The best thing you can do is use a trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a service that provides a protective barrier between you and the worldwide web. When you use a VPN, all of your communications are routed through a server. This routing encrypts the information you send out, and the information you receive, so that hackers can’t eavesdrop on your communications. These usually cost a monthly fee and require a little time to setup.
If a VPN isnt your style the next best thing is to see if the Wifi network you are planning to connect to is actually owned by the business its claiming to be from. Ask the person at the counter what the name of the free wifi network is, the one you see could be someone waiting to steal your data.
Make sure your computer is not letting anyone into your files. Using shared folders can be really handy when you’re working in an office network, but as soon as your computer is open to public WiFi, your shared folders can be viewed by anyone who is on the network. To prevent this from happening, change the file sharing settings on your laptop, and make sure that privacy settings are different for public and private networks.
If the site is using an SSL Certificate to encrypt the data it sends between you and the server you should see a small lock icon next to the URL in your browser. Make sure the lock stays there the whole time you are using the site, if it goes away after visiting a different page on the website there might be a problem.
Finally the safest thing you can do is just dont type any sensitive data into your computer while using a public network. If you need to check your bank account or pay for something with a credit card, just wait till you get to a secure network to finish that task.
Stay safe out there and keep your passwords long and obscure.