We've all been there: looking for free Wi-Fi on the go and failing to find it. The trick is knowing how and where to look – while staying safe. Don't forget that unsecured public networks are a goldmine for hackers!
If you need free internet connection, your first call should be well-known public places that offer Wi-Fi hotspots. There are plenty you can choose from – coffee shops, restaurants, retail stores, supermarkets, museums and many more.
Some cities even offer free Wi-Fi throughout their old towns, plazas, or tourist attractions. You shouldn't have a problem in New York, Barcelona or Paris. Just do your research before your next trip.
If you are in the middle of nowhere with no cafes around but you really need to finish that work assignment, check whether your phone has a 3G or 4G connection. If so, perfect! Just turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot. You may not be able to stream HD movies, but it's more than sufficient to do some research or send emails.
For iOS users:
When there's an app for everything, it's no surprise that you can get one to find free Wi-Fi anywhere. Here are a few recommendations that'll help.
Wi-Fi Map is one of the most popular apps out there that can help you find free Wi-Fi. The great thing about it is that it contains a map with over 100 million Wi-Fi hotspots along with login credentials. Since the app is crowdsourced, most networks are tried and tested.
Instabridge is another crowdsourced app that offers a map with over a million free public Wi-Fi networks. It includes not only login credentials but an auto-connect function. Thus, whenever you're close to a Wi-Fi hotspot listed in the app, your mobile device (be it an Android or iOS device) will connect automatically.
Wi-Fi Finder is an Android-only app that shows your nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and indicates whether they are free or not. It's a great app for frequent travelers. It has an offline function too, so you can look for nearby hotspots even if you don’t have any mobile data. The app only lists verified hotspots and also indicates their speed and the type of venue they are located at.
Public Wi-Fi is a minefield – even legitimate providers could be looking for ways to take advantage of your usage. And then there are the hackers. Here are just some of the risks (and solutions):
Connecting to free Wi-Fi is risky business. Anyone capable of intercepting an unprotected connection can steal your login credentials, banking details, emails, and other sensitive information. However, that doesn't mean that you should stop using public Wi-Fi altogether. What you should do is be vigilant and take extra precautionary steps to protect yourself.
You know that annoying pop-up you get when you connect to a new network? The one asking whether you should trust the network and share your information? Do not blindly accept it! It’s like leaving your front door open at all times. Hackers will be able to easily intercept your connection and gain access to most of the information stored on your device.
Some people disable their firewalls due to their annoying pop-ups and notifications. However, enabling it before connecting to public Wi-Fi is essential. You'll require consent before using some of the apps on your device, but in return you'll get a robust gateway defense.
A virtual private network, also known as VPN, is your best bet to ensure secure public Wi-Fi connectivity at all times. In fact, that’s what it does best:
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