Many elementary, middle and high schools are offering WiFi, and of course colleges and universities provide it as well. Some provide the networks with a required login access, and for others it's open, unencrypted and free for anyone to jump on.
Traditionally, when we think "login," we believe that also means encrypted and secure. However, logging in with a user name and password doesn't necessarily mean it's a secure network. Traffic on many networks requiring a login is unencrypted, which means anyone who connects to the network with the right "sniffing" tools can see others' information.
When connecting to a network that requires a login credential, the easiest way to tell if that network has encryption is to pull up the list of wireless networks from your control panel and simply hover over each with your mouse (or right click) to show its properties. Any network labeled WPA or WP2 has encryption. If it's labeled WEP, it also has encryption, but at a substandard level that is hackable.
Want to be safe? Use a private VPN! Logging into public WiFi without any encryption puts all your information at risk. Install a wireless VPN such as Hotspot Shield. Hotspot Shield VPN is a great option that protects your entire web surfing session, securing your connection on both your home internet network and on public internet networks (both wired and wireless). Hotspot Shield's internet security solution protects your identity by ensuring that all web transactions (shopping, filling out forms, downloads, etc.) are secured through HTTPS--the protected internet protocol.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.