Use secure networks

It’s good to be extra careful whenever you go online using a network that you don’t know or trust - like using the free Wi-Fi at your local cafe. The service provider can monitor all traffic on their network, which could include your personal information.

However, if you are using a service that encrypts your connection to the web service, it can make it much more difficult for someone to snoop on your activity. By default, we encrypt the Gmail connection between your computer and Google - this helps to protect your Google activity from being snooped on by others. We also make this protection, known as session-wide SSL encryption, the default when you’re signed into Google Drive and many other services.

Check for signals about your connection with the website when you surf the web.

First, look at the address bar in your browser to see if the URL looks real. You should also check to see if the web address begins with https:// - which signals that your connection to the website is encrypted and more resistant to snooping or tampering. Some browsers also include a padlock icon in the address bar beside https:// to indicate more clearly that your connection is encrypted and that you are more securely connected.

When you connect through a public Wi-Fi network, anyone in the vicinity can monitor the information passing between your computer and the Wi-Fi hotspot if your connection is not encrypted. Avoid doing important activities like banking or shopping over public networks.

If you use Wi-Fi at home, you should make sure that you use a password to secure your router. Just follow the instructions provided by your Internet Service Provider or router manufacturer to set your own password for the router instead of using the router default password, which may be known to criminals. If criminals are able to access your router, they can change your settings and snoop on your online activity.

Finally, you should also make sure to secure your home Wi-Fi network so that other people can’t use it for an added layer of security. This means setting up a password to protect your Wi-Fi network - and just like with other passwords that you choose, make sure that you pick a long, unique mix of numbers, letters and symbols so that others can’t easily guess your password. You should choose the WPA2 setting when you configure your network for more advanced protection.