One of the iPhone’s most valuable features is its Wi-Fi support, which lets you connect to high-speed wireless networks for faster Web browsing and better data coverage in spots where cellular coverage is less than stellar. However, employing Wi-Fi networks without taking the proper security precautions can leave your device–and everything on it–open to crafty hackers.

First things first, you want to make sure your own personal Wi-Fi networks is secured using Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or another wireless security protocol. (Refer to the product literature that accompanied your wireless router for more on how to enable Wi-Fi security.) When you connect your iPhone to that network for the first time, you’ll be prompted for the network’s password–assuming you’re using some sort of Wi-Fi security. You should also modify the name of your personal Wi-Fi network to something custom, to help reduce the chance of coming across another network with the same name.

To ensure that you don’t unknowingly connect to Wi-Fi networks while on the go, you should enable the iPhone’s Ask to Join Networks function. You can turn this feature on by once again tapping the main iPhone Settings tab and then choosing Wi-Fi. On the main Wi-Fi settings screen, turn the Ask to Join Networks function on by simply tapping the on/off button next to the option. After the feature is enabled, you’ll never connect to an open Wi-Fi network without first being asked to confirm the connection. (The device will still automatically connect to recognized networks, or networks to which you’ve connected in the past.)

It’s also a good idea to disable Wi-Fi whenever it’s not in use. This reduces the chance of accidentally connecting to an unsecured or suspect network and saves iPhone battery life. To turn Wi-Fi off, just hit the iPhone Settings icon, tap Wi-Fi and then click the on/off button on the Wi-Fi screen.

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