Wi-Fi access is widely available, but many of the free connections are to unsecured public Wi-Fi that will leave your information traveling openly! On an unsecured public Wi-Fi network, cybercriminals can easily access the data you are transmitting due to the fact that your information is not encrypted.
A more secure public Wi-Fi network requires a password or credentials to gain access that is provided by someone acting in an official capacity for the local business and the use of encryption. When looking for an available and more secure wireless network, you will see ones using encryption marked with a small lock symbol next to the name of the network. Some hotels and shops that provide free Wi-Fi to customers provide access to their secure networks by providing you with credentials or an access code when checking in, making a purchase, or on request.
How do you know the Wi-Fi network is one you should trust? Ask someone who should know – the hotel concierge, the barista at the coffee shop, etc. There are no rules about naming your Wi-Fi network, so many Wi-Fi networks run by malicious actors use names that you expect to trust. Ask - don’t trust the name!
If you opt to use a public Wi-Fi connection, make sure you understand the risk – others may be able to see what you do. Keep this in mind and do not conduct sensitive transactions or log in using your credentials on any sites. Not all apps and sites support encryption and other good security practices, which leaves you much more open to many types of cyber-attacks when on a public Wi-Fi connection.