Accessing the internet outside your home is now easier than ever with an increasing number of places providing public wi-fi, enabling you to access the internet whenever you need it. A public wi-fi network, however, is much less secure than your personal one. This is because you don’t know who set it up or who else is connecting to it.

Here are a few tips to help you stay secure when using public wi-fi…

Know who to trust – Try to stick to well-known networks such as McDonalds or Starbucks. Using the random network that pops up in a shopping centre or one operated by a third party that you’ve never heard of isn’t the best idea. Make sure you know who is providing the network for you to access.

HTTPS – HTTPS is an encrypted connection, as opposed to HTTP which is unencrypted. Try to only ever use HTTPS as this means others on the same network as you can’t see the data that travels between you and the server of the website you’re visiting. The easiest way to tell what connection you’re using is to check the web address.

Don’t give away too much information – When signing up to access public wi-fi, you may be asked to fill out your details. If you need to access the wi-fi, then be mindful of what information you’re providing. If the form doesn’t require you to give your phone number, don’t give it. Also consider using a secondary email address that you don’t use for important things like banking.

Limit sharing capabilities – When using a public network, make sure to disable file sharing on your device. This means no-one will be able to grab any files from you or send you anything you don’t want.

Check what you’re signing up for – As much as we don’t necessarily like reading Terms and Conditions, it is a good idea to do so when connecting to public wi-fi networks. This is so you know what kind of data they’ll collect from your session/activity on the network and what they’re going to do with it. If a network asks you to install any software or browser extensions, disconnect straight away.

Use a VPN – Installing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) client on your devices will help you stay safe on public wi-fi. It encrypts data travelling to and from your device and connect you to a secure sever, making it harder for other on the network to see what you’re doing or access your details.