Free wifi may well be a modern age miracle, but it’s also a great source of annoyance to many of its users – but is that through a lack of understanding in some cases? A recent question posed on facebook said; ‘What is your biggest gripe when it comes to using free wifi?’ This is what they said;
McDonald’s like other places expect you to register with them and share some of your information/details. I personally don’t like that and didn’t avail of their wifi whether it was free or not.
4 March at 22:17
Businesses will always want your data to sign up, that’s effectively why they are doing it after all. Cheryl is bang on though, if you’re going to offer it at least make it work.
4 March at 22:28
There’s a scheme in Australia at the moment rolling out nationwide on the coast by a phone company called Telstra. You get free WiFi at any phone box and you don’t need to give any details.
5 March at 00:24
Sloooooow. Some are not worth using. Our sports Club won’t let you use your 3G in the building, you can ONLY use their wifi which involves creating an account – annoying. Most hotels’ wifi is fantastic & v fast.
5 March at 06:06
At Airparks we provide all of our customers with free wifi in our buses and in the car parks themselves, its easy to access, it’s fast and it’s exactly what you want when you are on the move. We find it helps our travellers to send those last few messages to friends and family, check the weather at their destination, post one last message to colleagues stuck back in the office, or to finish off some work before they have to shut down electronics on board their aeroplane.
But what are the myths and the truths behind free wifi. The cynic would say that there is no such thing as ‘free’ wifi – after all nobody offers something for nothing, do they? Originally of course, wifi hotspots were sought after and the access to them was a great pull to those looking for a spot to lunch or have coffee. But nowadays you can supposedly wander from zone to zone across town and access it wherever you like, but how do you avoid all the dangers? Are you likely to be digitally mugged?
No matter how irritating it is putting those passwords and details in, it is much safer to do it! Tempting though it might be, do not connect to an unsecured network. If your smartphone automatically connects to a hotspot run by an identity thief then you have given them the best chance at accessing your private data – including all your passwords. Plus, without checking you’re using that safe connection, someone across the room could run a piece of free software that sniffs every bit passing over the network and grab passwords, credit card numbers and more!
Wireless hotspots are essential these days. But you wouldn’t sit in a cafe with your purse in an easy-to-grab place. If you use public wifi at Airparks, in the airport, hotel room and abroad, awareness and encryption are paramount and the right connection and given password is one way to ensure you are safe online. Plus, when you are connected and browsing the web, if the web address displayed by your browser starts with HTTPS, you’re safe. If not, everything is potentially exposed to the baddies.
But with these secure provided networks come the annoyances and the disadvantages. Many of these public wifis are designed as a data collection engines. You may be asked to put in your email address, your date of birth and your full name. Some people have set up a specific email account – such as in Hotmail – to use as a ‘login details’ account specifically for this purpose. It means that their true email account is not subjected to the spam that this process might incur.
But why register details in the first place? Usually it helps protect you from nasty viruses and fraud and more often than not, legally they need to ask people to register some information before using the service to comply with European Data Retention directives. This information might, in case of anything illegal, be made available to authorities as required, but unless they state otherwise in the terms and conditions shouldn’t be shared with any third party companies.
- For webmail or other sites that require a login password, ensuring there is an “https” in the website address means that the data you send and receive is protected from sniffers and snoopers.
- If you use Outlook or another desktop email program, adjust your account settings to require a secure connection when sending or receiving mail.
- Online banking or purchasing is usually encrypted as is Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook.com, and Facebook. Be aware though that some sites offer a secure login page, but after you’re logged in, they revert to non-encrypted mode!
- Always read the terms and conditions that are presented to you before logging on!
- Hotels that offer free wifi and then encourage you to upgrade are usually targeting those business users that will upgrade because they can claim it back on their expenses. The free usage should be enough for a guest that wants to access it in the short-term.
- Don’t bother trying to connect to “Free Public Wi-Fi” (or “hpsetup” or “linksys”). It’s never a working Wi-Fi hot spot. It’s actually a viral “feature” of Windows XP running amok.
- Don’t forget that once you have finished accessing wifi, then turning off your device’s wifi connector will save battery power, which is will be very important to travellers in particular.