Whether you're traveling for work or for relaxation, you'll often pop open your laptop computer once you check into your hotel to check your email, catch up on some work or read reviews about the restaurants within walking distance. Many hotels are equipped with Wi-Fi connections for their guests, meaning that you'll be browsing the Internet wirelessly in a matter of minutes. Anytime you use a public Wi-Fi network, it's vitally important that you take steps to protect yourself. Here are some tips to employ that can keep you safe online during your hotel stay.
Confirm The Hotel's Official Connection
When you attempt to connect to a hotel's Wi-Fi network, you'll often see a long list of available connections — especially if there are other buildings close to the hotel. Some of these networks won't be secure, so it's a good practice to confirm the official connection name of the hotel's network upon check-in. Ideally, you should also stay at reputable hotels that require you to provide login information to connect, such as your last name and your room number. Doing so means that any average hackers with ill intent won't simply be able to park nearby and access the network with ease.
Boost Your Computer's Defenses
Before you actually log onto the hotel's network, it's a good idea to spend a couple minutes fortifying your laptop's defenses. This includes making sure that your antivirus software is updated and that your firewall is activated. You might lapse on the latter step when using the computer at home, but the firewall is worth applying whenever you use the computer on a different network. Lastly, check your settings to ensure that your file-sharing function is deactivated.
Use A VPN
Installing a VPN, or virtual private network, on your laptop computer before you leave home for your trip is another way to protect yourself when you're connected to your hotel's Wi-Fi network. VPNs are designed to essentially give you a private network for browsing, even when you're technically connected to a network that is public. There are a variety of VPN products that you can install; some are free and others require a monthly membership.
Disconnect When You're Not Online
Although it might be convenient to leave your laptop connected to the hotel's network even when you're not using it, this isn't the safest approach. Because you're technically at risk whenever you're connected, it's a smart idea to disconnect (and make sure your computer isn't set to automatically join any available networks) when you're done using the Internet.