Public Wi-Fi has become about as essential as running water. Coffee shops that want to entice customers into buying that sixth cup of coffee offer unrestricted access to free Wi-Fi, while practically every airport in the world doles it out at a price — knowing full well that their captive customers will pay a small fortune for access while passing the time between flights. You can even tap into a wireless hotspot at a Mount Everest base camp, for when you just have to Instagram that climbing selfie.
Despite all the benefits of public internet access, there's a major risk lurking behind your browser. Everything you send, receive, and view while using a public Wi-Fi connection is up for grabs by hackers, governments, and even that unassuming guy sitting next to you on the same network.
And it's not only people stealing your sensitive data that you have to worry about. Hackers and cybercriminals can also take advantage of your unsecured connection by sending you a slew of viruses, tracking devices, and malware — all of which can compromise your system even further and bring your computer to a grinding halt.
Here are three of the biggest mistakes you can make while using public Wi-Fi: