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Four safety tips for using Wi-Fi

Four safety tips for using Wi-Fi

If you have a laptop, tablet, or smartphone with wireless connectivity, you can access the Internet in airports, hotels, and other public spaces that offer Wi-Fi (wireless networking technology). You can also use an Ethernet cable.

The following tips can help you protect your privacy while enjoying the convenience of public Internet access.

  • Defend your device against Internet threats

    Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and antispyware software. Windows 8 includes antivirus protection that’s turned on by default. If your computer isn’t running Windows 8, download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.

    Never turn off your firewall. If you use Windows 8 or Windows 7, you can configure your firewall to block all unsolicited attempts to connect to your computer when you’re using a public network. For more information, see Windows Firewall from start to finish (Windows 8) or Understanding Windows Firewall settings (Windows 7).

    Keep all software (including your web browser) current with automatic updating. Never update your software on a public Internet connection.

    Use strong passwords.

    Turn off file sharing. Learn how with Windows 8 or Windows 7.

  • Check the security level of the network

    Choose the most secure connection—even if that means you have to pay for access.

    A password-protected connection (ideally one that is unique for your use) is better than one without a password.

    Both Windows 7 and Windows 8 can help you evaluate and minimize network security risks.

  • Avoid typing any sensitive information

    If possible, save your financial transactions for a secured home connection. Passwords, credit card numbers, or other financial information are less secure on a public network.

    TipTip If you must enter credit card numbers while using a public network, make sure you see a locked padlock icon in the corner of the browser window, and make sure the web address begins with https: (the "s" stands for secure).

  • Turn off your wireless network when you're not using it

    If you're on your computer (but not using the Internet or sending email) in an area with public Wi-Fi access, disable your wireless connection.

    If you're using an external Wi-Fi card, you can remove it.

    If you're using an internal Wi-Fi card, right-click the connection and then click Disable.