Using public Wi-Fi safely

Stay Smart Online Week

avatar

Credit Union SA

Member Experience Team

Public Wi-Fi isn’t always safe. Without the right protection, your personal information could become public. Reverse the threat of cybercrime and get smart about using public Wi-Fi.

What is a public Wi-Fi hotspot?

A public Wi-Fi hotspot is a location — such as a café, airport, hotel or library — offering a Wi-Fi internet connection to people for their digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets or laptops.

Is a public Wi-Fi hotspot secure?

Public Wi-Fi hotspots are convenient but can be risky. It’s easy for the information being sent between your device and the public Wi-Fi network to be intercepted. Cybercriminals have also been known to set up rogue Wi-Fi hotspots with names that look like a legitimate network. Cybercriminals use these networks to get their hands on your banking credentials, account passwords and other valuable information.

How to stay safe when using public Wi-Fi

Be careful about what you do online when you’re using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Here are some tips to help keep your information safe:

  • Confirm the ‘official’ hotspot name from venue staff and manually connect your device to it. Don’t let your device automatically connect to the first hotspot in its list.
  • Check the privacy and security details before agreeing to the network’s terms of use. Check to see what data will be collected about you and how it will be used.
  • Don’t do your online banking or shopping, send confidential emails or enter your passwords or credit card details on public Wi-Fi. Wait until you’re using a secure home, office or mobile connection.
  • Consider using the mobile data on your phone instead. If you’re using a laptop or tablet without mobile data, try setting up your phone as a personal hotspot with a strong password.
  • Use secure websites. Always look for a https (‘s’ stands for secure) in the website address and a padlock on the web browser.
  • Turn off file sharing. If you have file sharing turned on and you connect to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, your files may be accessed by others using the same hotspot.
  • Install a reputable Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your device. When enabled, this boosts security by creating an encrypted ‘tunnel’ for your information to pass securely through public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Turn on your firewall and virus scanner. Firewalls are designed to prevent unauthorised access. Be sure to check your device and turn on its firewall (if applicable).
  • Always remember to disconnect from the hotspot after you’ve finished using it.

Supporting our community

Learn more

At Credit Union SA, working with our community is at the heart of everything that we do. Find out how we are involved in your community.

Help and support

Learn more

Whatever your concern, Credit Union SA can help you solve your problem. Find out how we can help you.

RELATED ARTICLES