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Faqs About Free Wifi

In order to get the best experience out of utilizing free WiFi broadband access that is open to the general public, there are a few things you should always keep in mind to protect your privacy and the security of yourself and your computer. Before connecting to a free WiFi hotspot, please review the following information.

Why is using an open WiFi hotspot a risk?

A wireless data transmission that is open (not using WEP, etc.) can be easily intercepted even by the most novice computer users. Most free hotspots leave their networks unsecured to make it very easy for anyone to access. Because of this and the simplicity of wireless it is important to keep your data secure and to protect sensitive information on your computer.

Protecting your privacy

When using a free WiFi connection on an open network it is important to know that the data your transmit is most likely not secure. Because of this, you should avoid connecting to any Web site or service that requires password authentication that is not specifically securely protected using SSL, etc. This includes using FTP and email that does not requires an SSL connection. If you can connect to a VPN connection at a free WiFi hotspot, this will greatly improve your privacy. If you do not have access to a secured VPN, then you should limit your wireless usage to general Internet surfing and non-critical email accounts.

  1. If you have access to a VPN (Virtual Private Network), always connect to it when you are connected to an open wireless network.

  2. Make sure you are connected to the legitimate free WiFi network. Check with the hotspot to make sure that you are connected to the correct SSID. There are currently a number of WiFi "phishing" attacks that have been prevalent known as "Evil Twin" networks. An "Evil Twin" network is where crackers setup phony open networks with the intention of hijacking data. By making sure you are connected to the correct network you can greatly reduce the risk of connected to these illegitimate networks.

  3. If you are transferring sensitive files while connected to an open hotspot make sure that you encrypt your files.

  4. If you need to check your web based email make sure that you are connected over an SSL connection before entering your username and password.

  5. If you need to connect to your non web based email make sure that you are using SSL encryption for both incoming and outgoing connections.

  6. Try to avoid surfing to sensitive Web sites where your personal information could be at risk such as banking sites and other financial sites when connected to a free WiFi hotspot.

Protecting your computer

There are a number of simple things you can do to help protect the integrity of your computer and your personal information when accessing a free WiFI hotspot.

  1. Make sure your computer is properly updated with the latest security patches for your Operating System (Windows, etc.).

  2. Use a software firewall. Even the one included with Windows is better than nothing. However it is recommended to get yourself a good software firewall.

  3. Always run anti-virus software and anti-spyware software.

  4. Make sure you have your network settings setup properly to prevent unauthorized access on both Windows and Mac. To do this, make sure you have either file sharing turned off completely or restrict access to authorized users only and enable permission on your folders. Once you are connected to an open network. If you have file sharing enabled it is not hard for any user connected to the same wireless network to simply access the files in your shared folders.

  5. You should always password protect your computer.

"Wi-Fi" is a registered certification mark of the Wi-Fi Alliance. For more information about the Wi-Fi Alliance and its certification programs for 802.11-based products and services, please visit are not affiliated with nor sponsored by The Wi-Fi Alliance. We urge all hotspot operators and users to use Wi-Fi Alliance certified products.
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