Public wireless hot-spots are safe for use with a laptop, provided that users take precautions to secure their connections. These include ensuring which network at a venue is safe to use by verifying its name with a staff member, as well as browsing using a virtual private network.
Additional protective measures that laptop users can take when connecting to a public wireless hot-spot are turning off file sharing and marking the Wi-Fi connection as a public network. In Windows, these settings are found under Windows Firewall or the Network and Sharing Center, both located under Windows' Control Panel. In Mac, the file sharing settings are available under System Preferences.