How to locate a secure wireless hotspot

Most of us know by now to protect our PCs, our data and ourselves when surfing the internet, but we might not think to take responsibility for our own safety when connecting over a public wireless hotspot. Follow our simple, four-step walkthrough to locate a secure wireless hotspot and protect yourself on the move.

1. It's vital that your firewall is up and running when you're accessing a hotspot. You can access this through the Network and Sharing Center - ensure it's switched on in the main window that's displayed. If you want more control over the setup, click 'Change settings'.

 Step 1

Step 1

2. You'll now see a dialogue box with three tabs. Check the firewall is enabled under General. More importantly, ensure that it's protecting your wireless connection — this option is listed under Advanced. You can specify which programs can connect to the Internet under the Exceptions tab.

 Step 2

Step 2

3. You can use Google Maps to find public Wi-Fi hotspots that are close by, as well as comments by users. Go to and type in 'Wi-Fi hotspots', followed by a postcode or place name, then click Search Maps. This will display an area with pins marked on it to show hotspots.

 Step 3

Step 3

4. Red pins mark places that offer Wi-Fi, but haven't been reviewed, but blue pins include comments. Some of these can be very useful (for example, if a restaurant or cafeteria makes up for free wireless connectivity by charging more for its coffee). Click on a pin to get details of how to find a location.

 Step 4

Step 4

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Jason Whittaker

PC Advisor (UK)
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