Using Public WiFi Safely

Did you know that if you're an AT&T customer and have an iPhone and have WiFi turned on that every time you go near a Starbucks, your phone jumps on that WiFi?  If you live in the Philadelphia area and are a Comcast customer and have ever signed onto a Comcast public WiFi hotspot that chances are good that your phone will automatically connect again anytime you come close to one?  I've had that happen to me while I've been on Septa trains.  Needless to say I've disabled that functionality, but the folks over at SmallBiz Technology have an article you should read over if you are even an occasional user of public hotspots.  I have moved on to using a VPN to secure my connections when I decide to use a hotspot and have disabled auto connection to these hotspots, which is something else everyone should consider.  What do you do to secure your connection?