If you take a laptop out into the world, you've probably seen the notification saying "Wireless Network Detected." Free hotspots are not uncommon in coffee shops, hotels, airports, and other public locations, There are some things to know before you simply hop on an unfamiliar wireless network.
Sometimes it is Stealing
For public places that offer free Wi-Fi hotspots this is a different story, but sneaking on an unsecure home Wi-Fi network is technically illegal. Granted, it's the owner's fault for not applying security to their network, but that's a whole different topic.
It Could Open You Up To Attack
Public hotspots at coffee shops and hotels are a huge convenience, letting you get work done while on the go. The downside is it does add your computer to an unsecure network for the length of your visit. This makes you a fairly easy target for cyber criminals who can spy on your communications, steal passwords, credit card information, and other data that you are sending over the wireless network. On top of that, you can pick up malware which degrades the performance of your computer and can leave you vulnerable long after you disconnect from the public hotspot.
How to Avoid Being Vulnerable
Although the safest way to avoid the dangers of unsecure wireless networks is to not connect to them, when on the road or in a pinch, they are extremely convenient. Ensuring your Windows updates are up to date as well as your antivirus is a good start. Some hotspots require you to pay or request access. Often these have some additional security measures in place to keep you safe. If you have a smart phone with a data plan, look into tethering it to your laptop. You can pull your phone's internet connection securely and use that; giving you your own personal connection.
Going on a business trip? Contact us at 801.222.0930 to make sure your laptop is ready for the road and other tips to keep you productive during your travels.