Connecting to secure wireless networks is an important habit to develop to ensure the safety of your data on mobile devices. Whether you’re on a laptop, tablet or smartphone, being smart about the wireless networks you connect to is a step worth taking to protect your data. Did you know that freely available and easy-to-use online tools allow hackers to read all the data you transmit and receive from your computer if you’re not connected to a secure wireless network? Check out the steps below to learn how to stay safe when connecting without wires:

  • Make sure that you’re only connecting to encrypted networks which require a password. One of the ways you can verify this is by looking for a lock icon next to the name of the network you’re connecting to. Other times, an unsecure network might have an alert shield next to it depending on the computer or device you are connecting with.
  • If you’re on campus, use the USC Secure Wireless network only. Staff, faculty and students with USCNet IDs should never use the Guest Wireless network as it is not secure.
  • If connecting to an unsecure network is the only option, turn on the USC VPN as soon as you connect. This will help make sure that traffic you send over the network is encrypted, even if the network itself is not.
  • Be especially cautious of networks in public locations, such as restaurants, coffee shops, airports and other shared areas. Networks in these locations often have no security restrictions which can put your computer and its data at risk.
  • If you’re at another university, connect to their secure eduroam network if it is available. This network is a partnership between USC and many different universities around the world which lets you securely access the internet at participating institutions using your full USCNet ID email address ( and USCNet ID password to log in.