Best Practices for Using Wi-Fi Securely


For information on how to configure your computer to connect to Wi-Fi at UNC, please visit our Connecting to the UNC Network – Getting Started document.

This document provides best practices for using Wi-Fi securely. Following these guidelines can help keep your personal information safe while using Wi-Fi:


  • Keep your device’s software and web browsers up-to-date.
    • Having the latest software and security updates protects against hacks aimed at older software.
  • Be aware of “rogue” Wi-Fi networks and hotspots.
    • If you see a public Wi-Fi network with a strange name, like “Free Wi-Fi” or a list of letters and numbers, ask a staff member which network you should connect to. When in doubt, don’t join an oddly-named Wi-Fi network you’re not familiar with.
  • Be careful what sites you visit on public Wi-Fi networks.
    • Secure connections to websites will begin with https:// and show a lock icon near the URL in the browser. If you’re shopping, banking, or entering personal information, you should always use a secure website connection.
  • If you’re using a mobile device, don’t assume your apps are automatically secure.
    • It’s safest to assume your apps are not secure. Instead, use a secure website connection.
  • While shopping and banking or working with personal information, use a secured Wi-Fi network.
    • Secured Wi-Fi networks often require a password and have a lock icon next to them. If you aren’t able to join a secured Wi-Fi network, it’s best to shop and bank later.
  • Avoid using free communication apps.
    • Apps offering free phone calls, free instant messaging, free video calls, etc., can sometimes be designed to collect information about you. Unless you’re familiar with the app and its network, don’t use it.
  • Close your browser when you’re done surfing.
    • This is the best practice, especially if you’re using a public computer. Closing the browser will log you off all the sites you visited.
  • If a service or app offers two-factor authentication, use it.
    • Two-factor authentication is available in Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and many other services and apps. It adds an additional layer of security (a second factor) to your sign-in process. Two-factor authentication can even protect you if someone has stolen your password!
  • Use strong passwords.
    • A mixture of upper case letters, numbers and symbols, with at least 8 characters is recommended. Don’t use your birthday, SSN, or anything commonly known or discoverable about you. If you’d like to check how strong a password might be, this site can tell you, but be sure not to enter any real passwords.
  • If you’d like to browse more securely all the time, consider using a VPN.
    • A VPN makes your connection go through a secure encryption tunnel and adds another layer of security to your device’s communication. For information on using a VPN with connections to UNC, please see Best Practices for Using the Campus VPN.