Your IP: Unknown · Your Status: Unprotected Protected

Blog How-To

How to get free Wi-Fi anywhere

Sep 30, 2019 · 5 min read

How to get free Wi-Fi anywhere

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!

1. Find a place with a public Wi-Fi hotspot

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.

2. Turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot

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.

Android users:

  1. Open your Settings.
  2. Click More under the Network & internet.
  3. Select Hotspot & tethering.
  4. Click Wi-Fi hotspot.
  5. Set up a strong password and slide the bar to turn it on.

For iOS users:

  1. Open your Settings.
  2. Tap on Personal Hotspot.
  3. Set up a strong password and slide the bar next to Personal Hotspot.

3. Use Wi-Fi Apps

Use Wi-Fi apps

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

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

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

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.

Why public Wi-Fi is dangerous

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):

  • While you think you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi, you may actually be connecting to a fake malicious network created by a hacker. This can allow the hacker to intercept your device, steal your sensitive information or install malware.
  • Your devices are also less secure when connected to public Wi-Fi because hackers may be sitting on the same network and waiting for prey. If that’s the case, a hacker could perform malicious attacks (more about them here) or secretly sniff your traffic for any valuable information.
  • If you set up your phone as a hotspot, use a strong and unique password (follow these steps to create one). Otherwise, a hacker could join your network and intercept your devices.
  • Wi-Fi apps also have loopholes. They could list hotspots created by bad actors. It's best to check the community opinions and feedback on the preferred network before establishing a connection.
  • You shouldn't trust Wi-Fi apps and their auto-connect features either, as you may accidentally connect to a malicious hotspot. It's better to keep this feature off.
  • Not all Wi-Fi apps are altruistic. Some might also be running background scans for nearby Wi-Fi join requests and using them to create Wi-Fi heatmaps of public and private Wi-Fi networks. Hackers and stalkers can use these maps to find where you live. You can read more about it here.
  • Using public Wi-Fi could also violate your privacy. An airport, a cafe or a supermarket could be tracking what you do while browsing on their network and then using that data for other means.
  • Also beware that some Wi-Fi apps will collect a lot of data about you, such as your login details, your IP address, location data, device ID, time, SSID (Wi-Fi network name), and more. They might also share these with third-parties. So carefully read the privacy policies before agreeing to them.

Securing your public Wi-Fi connectivity

How to secure your Wi-Fi

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.

Turn off public network sharing

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.

Enable your firewall

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.

Use a VPN

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:

  • When you use a VPN service and connect to a public Wi-Fi network, the connection is fully encrypted. The VPN creates a secure tunnel locking out anyone on the same Wi-Fi network from snooping on your traffic.
  • It hides your original IP so hackers will have a harder time finding you and Internet Service Providers and websites will struggle to track you.
  • Some VPNs, including NordVPN, will offer you extra security features. For example, a Kill Switch that cuts your internet connection off if your VPN drops, or CyberSec that blocks annoying ads and suspicious websites.

Protect your data wherever you go. Try NordVPN now with a 30-day money-back guarantee!


Emily Green
Emily Green successVerified author

Emily Green is a content writer who loves to investigate the latest internet privacy and security news. She thrives on looking for solutions to problems and sharing her knowledge with NordVPN readers and customers.


Subscribe to NordVPN blog