By Karen Koch
Owner, CompassPointz, LLC
I have a friend that travels a lot. She travels so much, that she knows which airports have Starbucks and which
ones don’t. You don’t want to hear from her at the end of a long week, from an airport that doesn’t have Starbucks…but that’s another story.
One of the things that I hear about a lot, (besides the Starbucks) is free Wi-Fi accessibility in airports and hotels (or the lack of it). While on the road, she constantly has to check in, check flights, check email, etc. and it is frustrating that the most expensive hotels charge for Wi-Fi, while the less expensive ones offer access for free.
And why don’t all airports offer free Wi-Fi? People have time to kill and time to surf while waiting for the always prompt airlines. Free internet access would be wonderful - especially during the winter, when flights are delayed. Let the people watch Hulu or YouTube. The little televisions running CNN just don’t cut in for some mindless entertainment. But I digress…
While I understand the desire for internet access at the drop of the hat, I often have to remind myself (and my friends) of the inherent dangers that involve free Wi-Fi.
Finding available Wi-Fi networks is a good thing in this digitally connected age, but you have to remember that it's a lot more vulnerable than your wired or secured home connection. So if you're using someone else's Wi-Fi network, be careful about which of your website accounts you access.
Research shows that free wireless public networks located in airports and other public places are ripe for exploitation by hackers. The ability to set up fake "free" Wi-Fi hotspots in public places and potentially use them to steal sensitive data, such as online banking passwords or personal information, is alarmingly easy to do. In fact, hacker Web sites provide instructions on how such frauds can be accomplished.
While free Wi-Fi may be safer for secure websites, highly sensitive activities should only be performed from your own computer. A public computer should not be trusted for anything but casual surfing. This applies to airports, hotels, malls, parks, and coffee places.
So now, in addition to long check-in and security lines, my friend has one more thing to be anxious about - the identity thieves. But don’t tell her…not unless she had her Starbucks first!
CompassPointz, LLC is owned and operated by Karen Koch and Shawn Clark. CompassPointz delivers customized computer services dedicated to and business systems. With over 30 years of combined experience they have unique insight and perspective on the needs of their clients.