Technology over the years has changed so much. If you have a smartphone, tablet, or any similar devices, it most likely has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® capabilities. These technologies are known to connect our devices, but do you really know the difference?

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is normally used to connect your devices to the Internet. You’ll usually see Wi-Fi technology in phones, tablets, and computers, but it’s even available in other devices such as TVs, cars, and some appliances. Instead of being plugged into an Internet cable, your devices are linked via a router or a mobile network, allowing you to move freely in your home or from just about anywhere. The connection can work from far distances. For instance, your router can be in one room of your house, and you’re connected from another room.

With a greater connection range, Wi-Fi can also transfer small and large amounts of data at high speeds over short distances. This can be anything from loading a webpage, downloading a file, or streaming a video.

Wi-Fi connected devices are password protected to keep strangers off your network. It can also allow you to connect devices within the same network. For instance, your smartphone may have the capability of displaying the screen on your television if they are on the same Wi-Fi network. But make sure to be careful … if you can see what Wi-Fi devices are connected to the same network, hackers may gain access to all your devices. This is why you should have a strong password for your network.

If you’re in a public place such as a coffee shop, library, or airport, keep in mind that Wi-Fi hotspots may be convenient but are often not secure. If you connect to a public network, someone may see what you’re doing and hack in to gain access to your personal information. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are ways you can protect yourself and your data when you’re on public Wi-Fi:

  • Securely connect to websites: If you see HTTPS in the web address, it is secure. But be careful … just because the site uses HTTPS doesn’t mean it’s real. Hackers and scammers understand encrypted sites too. Only send personal information to websites you know are fully encrypted. If you log onto one and find yourself on something unencrypted, log out quickly.
  • Consider a VPN app: Virtual private networks (VPNs) have an encryption option. Do your research for the best VPNs.
  • Use your mobile data: This data is usually encrypted. If you don’t have a secure website or a VPN, don’t use the Wi-Fi.
  • Don’t access personal or financial information: When in public, don’t believe the public Wi-Fi is secure.
  • Don’t use the same password on different websites: Hackers and scammers could gain access to all your accounts that use the same password.
  • Pay attention to website warnings: Many browsers will alert you if you land on a sketchy website or download malicious files. It’s important not to ignore them and keep your browser and security software up to date.
  • Make sure your devices don’t automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi: This gives you more control over connecting to public Wi-Fi. Check your device settings to make sure it doesn’t automatically connect each time.
  • Turn your Wi-Fi off when not in use: Switch off your Wi-Fi connection when you are not using it to protect your data.

What is Bluetooth®?

Unlike Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® allows you to pair devices without using a router or mobile network. For example, you can connect your wireless earbuds to your phone using Bluetooth®. It also allows you to connect your phone to your car.

Bluetooth® does send data between devices but at a slower speed and shorter range than Wi-Fi. It also doesn’t require a password to connect, making the connection not as secure.

The Federal Communications Commission suggests these tips for Bluetooth® security:

  • Turn off your Bluetooth® when not in use: Hackers can discover what devices you are connected to, spoof a device, and gain access if you keep Bluetooth® active.
  • Unpair devices if using a rental car: To keep your phone’s data from being shared, unpair your phone from the car and clear your personal data. You should also take the same precautions when selling or trading in your car.
  • Hide your Bluetooth®: This prevents unknown devices from pairing with your connection.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with Adirondack Bank. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. Adirondack Bank is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the information provided or the content of any third-party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. Adirondack Bank makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.