A Common Sense Guide: Computers for Everyday Business People Chapter 3

WiFifree wifi


WiFi… the good, the bad, and the ugly!  First the good, it’s everywhere you want to be!  The bad, is it safe?  How would I know?  Last the ugly, sometimes evil hacker types (bored teenagers, college kids, or worse!) may be trying to spy on your online activities.  I am not saying to never use public WiFi but you don’t really know anything about what you are connecting to.  It is possible for the bad guys to create a false Starbucks access point and intercept your traffic.  That being the case one should estimate how likely this scenario would be.  If you are paying to use internet access at the Hilton maybe not too much risk.  If you are using Mom and Pops Coffee Shop free WiFi maybe more risky?  Starbucks WiFi less risky?  Connecting at a business colleagues office probably no risk?  The reality is all of these scenarios have unknown risk.  If you know little about the WiFi you want to use, limit your use and don’t do any high risk activities such as: banking, stock trading, or transmitting unencrypted client information.  Use sites that are creating a secure connection.  For example: https://docs.google.com/document or https://www.amazon.com/

If you really are “on the fly” often and need to use whatever WiFi you can find consider using additional protection.  Use your own hotspot or jet pack.  If you have phone data use your cellphone hotspot to connect your laptop.  When the risk are unknown a virtual private network (VPN) service should be considered.  It is also possible to use a travel router to create a more secure connection.  For simple task use your smartphone with your carriers network instead of your laptop on iffy WiFi.  

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