While free public Wi-Fi hotspots may be a commonplace in foreign countries, it is still in its nascent stages in India. However, thanks to Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio, the idea of free public hotspots at least transitioned to the execution phase.
Jio is not the only telco to set up such public Wi-Fi hotspots; BSNL is also planning to launch such free Wi-Fi zones. Moreover, with Prime Minister's endeavors to digitize things under the "Digital India" notion, the government is also lending a hand to set up such zones. In fact, today itself, Maharashtra Government had announced the activation of 500 hotspots (with another 700 hotspots to follow) across various regions in Mumbai.
Sound's great, right? Free Wi-Fi never hurts! Damn true, but, there's one thing that sure hurts, and when it does, it hurts bad. Yes, we are talking about the intrusion of privacy by cyber-criminals while using these public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Here are a few tips to stay safe while using free internet at Wi-Fi zones.
Access secure websites and apps only
While you are connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, think twice and think once again to access websites that are not secured. Because, eavesdropping on data while you are on a public Wi-Fi connection is very easy for hackers. You can differentiate between a secure and insecure website just by looking out for a green padlock that appears before the website's URL.
Also, when you are connected to these free Wi-Fi networks via a mobile phone, try to avoid apps and stick to mobile browsers so that you can figure out which website is safer before using it.
In case you are finding it difficult to differentiate a secured website from a non-secured one, try using VPN services. This way you can re-route your traffic or access data from an entirely different server which is located in a different country. Moreover, these servers are encrypted (most of the times) which make things difficult for potential hackers to get hold of your personal data. If you are interested interested in learning more about VPN, head straight to this link.
Turn Wi-Fi off when not in use
One of the simplest ways to stay safe while using public Wi-Fi hotspots is to turn off the Wi-Fi when not in use. As simple as it may sound, it can be quite helpful if followed. How? When you leave the Wi-Fi settings turned on your device (Android/iPhone/PC/Mac) it constantly searches for open Wi-Fi networks and automatically connects to them without your knowledge. This will allow hackers to snoop your data and you wouldn't even know what happened.
Turning off Wi-Fi settings is pretty much a simple affair no matter which device you are using. So, make a habit of turning of Wi-Fi when you are not using it.
Install updates whenever they are available
Most of the companies roll out software updates on a monthly basis that contain some security patches. If you are one of those who are largely dependent on public Wi-Fi hotspots, you should seriously consider installing these updates, since they help you avoid potential security threats.