You're at your favorite coffee shop enjoying your mocha swirl & breakfast sandwich. It's a Saturday, and you have brought your laptop with you to spend some time working on your next project. You open up your laptop to discover all of these wide open WiFi access points.
But what one? They are all named something different, some say "Connect to Me!" and others are just other restaurant's names. Some have random numbers and letter that mean nothing to you. Which ones should we be connecting to, and what are the risks when we connect to these wide open networks? We'll answer all of your questions.
What network should I connect to?
Some considerations in which wifi network you connect to should include an estimation of how many people are actually connected to that network. After all, the last thing you want is a saturated connection when you are trying to get your work done. Another consideration should be if the network is actually secure.
But how should you know?
We recommend looking for the closest networks to you first. And no, you don't have to walk around the place looking for the WiFi router! Just take a look at the networks at the top of your list when you open your WiFi settings. The closer the router is to you, the better the connection will be. Your next move should be to look for the name of the place you are at. If you can find that connection, try to connect there first. If the WiFi is locked, this isn't a bad thing. You can ask any of the employees if they allow guests onto their network, and they can give you the password. Locked networks are less prone to attackers and random connections, but they are much harder to access.
But what about the public networks?
When looking for a public network, try to find one with a familiar name. Spectrum WiFi or Cable WiFi is usually a pretty good connection. If you have an account with one of those service providers you can log in and join securely to their network. Restaurant names and addresses should be your next move. This is where we start to get into the security risks of these networks. Hackers could use a common attack called "Man-in-the-middle". This attack happens when you connect to a fake public network that is spoofed to the same name as the real public network. Hackers can intercept ALL traffic from you to the internet. The best networks you can connect to are those that are at the location you are in, usually they have some sort of acceptance when you join the network to show you the terms of service. This is usually a good sign of a secured network that is installed and maintained by professionals.
What can I really do to protect myself and my business?
When you are using these public networks, make sure that you aren't accessing any sensitive information like your bank accounts or other data. Even secured networks with a password can still come with a risk, so be careful when using any external internet connections that you don't know about. Talk to us about the best ways to secure yourself and your business.
A great consideration for connecting to public wifi is using a VPN. VPN's are a very good way to encrypt your connection and ensure much higher level of security when using a public network connection. Some of our favorite VPN's are:
- NordVPN - ExpressVPN
These VPN's come with a monthly fee which all hover at around $5. As far as we're concerned, this is a small price to pay for your security.
Talk to our team with any questions you may have about supporting yourself or your business with network installation and maintenance. We install high security and high speed routers, and monitor them for several types of cyber threats in real-time. Your network speeds and security can be some of the most important things in your business. We're here to help.