You can go just about anywhere. A restaurant, a grocery store, even a hotel and connect to WiFi. It's usually easy to connect. Most of the time for free, and many would hope securely. With just a few clicks you're connected to the internet.
However, easy access to a network could also mean easy access to your information.
Justin Kallhoff, CEO of Infogressive, Inc., says, "you should pretty much assume anytime you're using open WiFi...public WiFi that ...everything you do could be monitored or recorded by someone you don't want it to be so you should never feel comfortable using or accessing banks or financial information or anything personal that you hold sacred... on public WiFi..."
Kristan Yoder of Quick Connect warns, "if somebody knew what they were doing they can snoop on you, they can scrape some of the information off what you're doing and in some cases ...the case of a middle man type attack where you think you're connecting to Starbucks but you're really connecting to the guys laptop next to you that says Starbucks one...with phones nowadays and with ...some computers you can create mobile hot spots..."
There are some steps you can take to stay safe.
Yoder and Kalhoff suggest a VPN or Virtual Private Network.
“Don’t access...sensitive things while on public WiFi...use a VPN...don't access things that you don’t want recorded or that you’re not comfortable with on public WiFi," said Kalhoff, "pay attention to warnings that are in your browsers when they say 'this connection is not secure' particularly when you’re accessing your bank or other critical information when threes a warning take that extra second before you just click OK and go past it...a lot of those are sort of ...indicative of maybe their is a problem that you’re not going to what you think you are...,” Kalhoff said.