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As a business professional, you may occasionally connect to the internet using free wi-fi hot spots at locations like Starbucks or the airport. While these internet connections are incredibly convenient, they are also unsecured, so you should take a few steps to protect yourself and your data from evil-doers:

1. Activate your firewall and disable file sharing. This helps to block hackers from gaining easy access to your files.

2. Before signing onto a public wi-fi hot spot, check with the location’s representative to verify the correct name of the network. Sometimes hackers will set up a network in the area with a similar name. Avoid any network trickery by confirming details with your barista.

3. Look for the padlock icon in your browser. When you visit a website secured with encryption, your browser will display a padlock icon to indicate the site is secured. If a website is not secured, then any usernames and passwords you submit to that site can be captured by a hacker on the network.

4. Secure your email. Make sure your email client like Outlook or Mac Mail has SSL enabled, so that your email login information is protected. Nevertheless, know that the messages you receive and send may still be unsecured, so only retrieve or send non-critical messages when using public wi-fi.

5. Be street smart. If you have to get up for a moment, take your gear with you – don’t leave it unattended. In addition, wait until you get back to your own home network to conduct online banking or shopping. Lastly, if you’re working on something that doesn’t require internet connectivity, turn wi-fi off until you need to connect.

iPhone, cannoli and Starbucks

While working around town, we recommend the firewall, cannoli and Starbucks.

While there are additional, more technical ways to secure your data on public networks (such as using services like VPN, HTTPS, and 1Password), the five tips here will indeed make it tougher for the bad guys to get your data.

Got another public wi-fi security tip? Leave a comment below or share it on Twitter @redbuilding.

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