Free Airport WiFi Cautions

Kudos to the Denver International Airport for converting their paid WiFi network access from a paid model to an advertising supported model (read details here). Unfortunately, the free WiFi network gets 10 times more traffic than the earlier paid network even though there's been no public announcement of the change.

The darker side of public WiFi access dictates my use of "unfortunately" in the previous paragraph. If the airport didn't put signs up explaining the change, that means travelers saw the open WiFi channel and jumped on it. Too often, that "free WiFI" offer comes from a hacker capturing user name and login passwords for later exploits.

Never (let me use a stronger word: NEVER) connect through a WiFi "Ad-hoc" connection when out in public. The WiFi standard groups added that option to enable peer to peer networks to grow as needed in different situations where an "Infrastructure" WiFi network hadn't been built. Ad-hoc network means you are connecting to another laptop, not a wireless network access point.

Use "free" WiFi access carefully from locations you trust. But just because it says "free" doesn't mean it's secure. And if your wireless utility says a connection is Ad-hoc, translate that to "hacker connection" in your mind. Don't connect unless you're happy to share your user names and passwords with hackers and learn the "joy" of victimhood. After all, what's a little identity theft during the holidays?

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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