Would you walk down the street in a tee-shirt with all your passwords and namk account details printed on it? People do the electronic equivalent every time they log on to a free wi-fi hotspot with their phone or tablet computer.
All About Wifi Hot Spots
There are two ways to set up a hot spot.
You can connect a wireless router to a fixed DSL or cable Internet connection and just set the wireless network to be public, with no password protection.
You can do the same, but over a 3G connection using a mifi device, which is just like a slightly larger than usual USB memory stick. These are battery powered devices designed to connect a non-3G iPad or laptop to the Internet when the user is away from home. Again, to allow public access all you need to do is to remove the password protection from the wireless network.
Absolutely Anyone Can Set Up a WiFi Hot Spot
I could set up a wifi hotspot in 10 seconds anywhere I am sitting or standing. You wouldn’t even know it was me because all I have to do is to switch on a $80 mifi device in my pocket. I could be sitting on the train or at a bus stop, just another passenger with a 3G phone out while he is waiting for his bus to arrive.
I could deliberately make my mobile network password-free to attract other people into using it. Once you log on it is a very simple matter for me to get into your phone and read any data that is stored on it. If you store your passwords on your phone then I can read them, if you have your online bank account passwords stored then I can read those too.
Next time you are sitting on a bus and cannot believe your luck that there is a free wifi network on your bus, think twice, please.
Trusted Shops and Restaurants Free WiFi
Even if the people who have set up the wifi hotspot are trustworthy the other people who are sharing it with you will not necessarily be so. Any other teenaged hacker who is using that network has access to everything on your phone or computer as soon as you log on. He or she could be upstairs in a hotel room while you are logged on to the network in the bar; you will never see the hacker.
Most people have no virus protection on their mobile phones. Using free hotspots is just asking to have your phone trashed by a virus. Sharing public networks is a well-recognised way of contracting a virus on your device, whether it is a phone or a laptop; and yes there are iPhone viruses out there.
Alternatives to Free WiFi
Anyone with a smart phone capable of updating their Facebook status over wifi also has 3G on their phone. Yes using your paid-for 3G connection uses some of your data allowance, but it is totally secure. Nobody else can read what you are typing or get into your phone’s memory.
The only devices that have no 3G are non-smart phones and some basic tablets, including basic iPads that only come with wifi rather than 3G installed.
If it is not worth a part of your inclusive data allowance to update your statuses then surely, it is not worth doing it at all.
Why Do Shops Set up Wifi Hot Spots
Most of the people who set up free wifi networks are not malicious. They don’t do it out of generosity either though; they want you to log on to your social media accounts and to tell everyone where you are. That way they get a lot of marketing exposure that is targeted to people like you just for the cost of setting up a free network.
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WiFi hotspots are personal privacy danger zones, whether people are using a flip phones, iPhones or wifi iPads they are risking identity theft and major financial losses. If you use any public network, whether password protected or not you risk everything, just to save using your free data allowance.