The short answer is that Public WiFi is only as safe as the people who are using it. If someone has malicious intent, there are ways for them to capture data that is sent to and from devices on that network. The good news is that we are not completely helpless - there are ways that we can minimize risk. Check it out...
- Always check for the green security bar or HTTPS in the web site address. This is especially important on sites that contain personally identifiable information about you, or when you are exchanging sensitive information. If you don't see the bar, can what you are doing wait until you get home?
- Turn off folder and file sharing on Mac or PC. This is especially important if you've got private data that you typically share on your home network.
- Avoid using Bluetooth if you don't need it.
Advanced: You can also work inside of your own Virtual Private Network (VPN) by using free tools like CyberGhost VPN for Windows
or CyberGhost for Mac
. Note that the free version of this software may involve a time limit and short wait times for connection.