It’s no secret that the first thing most people do when they sit down at a bar is connect to WiFi. Some like to have their smartphones always connected to the internet just in case they receive any important notifications, whereas others use it to check in on their contacts every once in a while. Regardless of your habits and the reason you use WiFi at bars and other public areas, you should be aware of the potential risk tied to using these often unprotected networks.
WiFi at Bars: Yes or No?
We live at a time where it is essential for bars to offer free WiFi to their customers. Considering that an average UK adult spends 23.5 hours per week online, it’s no shock that people will most likely avoid a bar if it doesn’t have a good internet connection. In fact, we’re not sure if you can even find a bar these days that has no WiFi whatsoever.
However, just because nearly every place you visit has an available WiFi connection, it doesn’t mean it is safe to use these networks. Naturally, everyone wants to switch to WiFi to save mobile data. However, this can be quite risky considering how easy for hackers to breach through devices and steal data via unprotected WiFi networks.
How to Ensure a Safe Browsing Experience
There is always a chance that someone with malicious intentions is connected to the same open network. As soon as you add your device to the bunch, you become exposed to serious cybersecurity risks, including data breaches, man-in-the-middle attacks, DDoS attacks, and others. Here four ways you can stay safe even while using open networks at local bars!
1. Recognize Safe Connections
You will notice that not all WiFi networks at bars are exactly the same. Some require you to log in by providing authentication details, whereas others are completely open and free to connect to. Even though they seem like a bit of a hassle, the networks that require signup are much safer than those that allow you to connect your device out of the blue. The reason behind this is that hackers don’t want to give up their data to sign up for WiFi, which means they are less likely to be lurking on networks that require a signup form.
2. Limit Your Activities
It is important to limit your activities while browsing the web on a public network. Try not to perform any high stake actions that involve financial data. Some of the actions you should be avoiding while connected to a public network include banking, shopping, and in any way exchanging financial data. In case you absolutely must share any of your sensitive information, you should switch to mobile data while doing so.
3. Turn Off When Not In Use
One of the easiest safety measures when it comes to cybersecurity is simply turning off your WiFi while it’s not in use. If you’re not actively using the network, disconnect your phone to reduce the risk of security threats on open networks. Keeping your WiFi off will also prevent your device from automatically connecting to open networks and thus exposing you to risk without your knowledge.
4. Use a VPN
Lastly, the best way to ensure full safety when using WiFi at bars is to install a reliable VPN server. A virtual private network will change your IP address and thus make you appear safe and private while surfing the web. That way, hackers and third parties won’t be able to detect your device on an unprotected network since all of your data will be routed through an encrypted tunnel. Besides boosting security, a VPN will also allow you to bypass geo-restrictions and unlock content that was previously unavailable in your area. For example, when you connect to the UK VPN server, you can access desired content from this location.
Keep Your Data Safe
While it would be too much to ask users to avoid using the internet in public for the sake of security, there are things you can do to keep your data safe. Besides the four pieces of advice we listed above, you can take into consideration the following tip.
Try to stick to properly secured websites that use the HTTPS protocol to protect users’ data. You will recognize these sites by the little padlock icon that should be located next to the URL. By sticking to safe sites, you will reduce the risk of bumping into unwanted security threats.