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Here's How to Protect Yourself When Using Public Wi-Fi

Published On 02/07/2017 Published On 02/07/2017

At this point, it's expected that every place you go has wi-fi. People want it in weird places you shouldn't need wi-fi, like clothing stores, garbage cans, public urinals, ummm, drop-off day care for dogs, maybe. Even if you don't expect it, you likely see three or four open networks any time you check for an internet connection at a cafe or restaurant.

But are all these hotspots safe? There's not a simple answer. However, as SciShow highlights in the video above, there are a couple things you can do to stop the nightmare scenario described in the video from happening to you. 

Beyond never using open networks and always use ones you need a password to access, their top recommendation is to use a Virtual Private Network, more commonly known as a VPN (just like you do to watch Netflix's international content). There are many good tutorials out there that can help you setup a VPN. This is a great way to protect your passwords, vacation photos, and credit card information. 

If you have to get on an open network and don't use a VPN, SciShow recommends you at least take a look at your address bar any time you're about to enter private information. If the address begins with HTTPS and there's a little lock next to the address, you can feel a little more secure about your connection with that site. If you're seeing HTTP, you might want to wait until you get home to enter your Facebook password. 

Get more details above and remember, just because you see a hilariously-named network like "TheLanBeforeTime" doesn't mean you should use that wi-fi.

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. He’s written for Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, The Rumpus, and other digital wonderlands. Follow him @dlukenelson.

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