Free Wi-Fi services are offered by many businesses and public places. Learn how to connect using free Wi-Fi and how to keep your information safe while you are connected.
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About Free Wi-Fi
Many businesses such as coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls and some public places such as schools, libraries and courthouses offer free Wi-Fi to customers and patrons as a complimentary service. The Internet connection is usually only available while you are in the establishment or within an established perimeter outside where outdoor seating is offered. The connection is an open network which leaves you vulnerable to others seeing the information you send and receive while on the network. Look for signs or ask an employee or representative to find out if free Wi-Fi is offered and if a password is required.
How to Connect
Connect Through a Browser
Some free Wi-Fi connections require you to accept terms through a before granting access.
Open your browser on your laptop or mobile device. Depending on the device, either the home page redirects to the connection page or a new tab opens to a connection page.
Agree to the terms of service. Some connections may also require you to click Go, Continue or Accept to proceed.
Some free Wi-Fi requires you to log in to the network. Enter the required username and password supplied by the business and click the Go, Enter or Continue button to proceed.
Connect Through Settings
On a Windows 8 computer, hover the cursor in the upper-right corner or along the right side of the screen to open the tool bar. Click Settings.
Choose the Wi-Fi icon, denoted by rising bars.
Move the control to the right to turn Wi-Fi on. All the available connections are listed, starting with the strongest. Click one of the options.
For unsecured connections, a warning appears. A shield with an exclamation point signals a private or unsecured connection. A password field appears when a password is required. Enter a password if asked and then click Connect.
Free Wi-Fi connections are open networks, which leaves your information vulnerable while you are connected. To protect sensitive information such as credit card numbers, bank accounts and passwords, use safety measures.
Firewalls create a barrier between incoming and outgoing information on a computer. Most computers have firewalls installed to keep people from hacking your computer. Turn firewalls on and increase the security levels for maximum protection.
Use Anti-Virus Software
Anti-virus software scans your computer or other device for viruses and malware. Keep your anti-virus software on and updated to detect dangerous activity on your device.
Turn Sharing Off
Share settings permit your computer to save passwords and automatically connect to websites and social networks. While share settings allow you to easily share pictures and update your status, this is an open avenue for hackers when you are on an open network. Turn sharing settings off to prevent people from accessing your device through sharing channels.
Passwords provide access to services, accounts and websites, but using the same or similar ones for multiple websites makes it easy for others to access your information. Protect your passwords by using different passwords, changing your passwords often or using password management services such as Dashlane, LastPass or Sticky Password.
Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network provides added protection for your information as you surf the Web. A VPN can be thought of as a network within a network that encrypts your information through digital tunnels. Free and paid VPN services are available. Free services include CyberGhost, FreeVPN and VPNBook. Paid services include IPVanish, Private Internet Access and TorGuard.