Free public wifi hotspots are everywhere these days. But while they may seem convenient, are they really worth the cost? We don’t think so, and here are 4 reasons why.
Free public wifi hotspots are email harvesting machines
Most larger places now require you to provide them with your email address to get access to their “free” public wifi hotspot. It’s called email harvesting and it’s purely so they can market to you. If you already get enough spam in your inbox, don’t use a public wifi hotspot.
Free public wifi hotspots are SLOW
You’re sharing a network with tens, possibly hundreds of other devices. Wifi access points allocate signal evenly between connected devices, whether they’re actually using data or not. They also have limited capacity, and the device they connect to has limited capacity, and the internet connection they’re connected to has limited capacity. You get our point. Unless you’re in the back of Kmart, you’re mobile data is WAAAY faster.
Free public wifi hotspots are watching you
If you’re connected to a hotspot at a shopping centre, you’re actually moving between a number of access points. The centre can track where you go using your device’s individual network (MAC) address. They know where you are whenever you’re connected to that network. Combine that with your email address, and they’re building a nice little profile of you.
Free public wifi hotspots can be insecure
Do you know what security the establishment has placed on their network? While places like McDonald’s and Westfield may have made the necessary investment in security, your local cafe may not have. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?
What to do if you have no choice
If you do absolutely have to use a public wi-fi access point,
- make sure you turn off the ability for other devices to see yours on the network;
- make sure you have up to date anti virus installed and firewall turned on; and
- make sure your computer is up to date, with all updates and patches installed.
Really though, with mobile data limits increasing all the time, there is less and less reason to ever need to use one of these public hotspots.