These days nearly every place you go offers public Wi-Fi. But is it a good idea to log on?

Public WiFi can be a tricky proposition because like the name says, it’s public. You have no control over who else is logged on there with you. If you have appropriate security on your device and the place providing the WiFi has appropriate measures in place, it can be perfectly safe. That being said, I still would avoid online banking or any activity where you need to enter personal information online when using a public WiFi network.

Make sure your device has a firewall enabled to keep hackers from making changes to your device.

Another important thing to watch out for when using public WiFi is scammers who generate their own WiFi networks and attempt to trick you into thinking that it’s the public WiFi network of a hotel, restaurant, or other business. They’ll pick a name that looks like what the WiFi network of the business might be called. Remember, you can name your WiFi network anything you like. You could rename your home WiFi Network, Starbucks Public WiFi if you felt like it

Before you log onto a public WiFi, check with the business to get the exact name of the network. Networks that require a customer to enter a password provided by the business are a better choice than ones that are open and allow anyone to sign in.

Check your device to make sure it doesn’t automatically connect to public WiFi networks. If you have a data plan for your smartphone consider using that connection instead of public WiFi or using your phone as a hotspot that allows you to connect your computer or tablet.

Another great option for people who need to use public WiFi is to have a VPN or virtual private network for your device. The Opera browser works with Windows and Mac PCs and offers a free built-in VPN.