Don’t Click ‘Free Public WiFi’ When Writing Remotely: Public Service Announcement

With all the digital writers in the audience, we know many of our readers are writing on laptops in coffee shops, parks, libraries, and other places. When searching for a WiFi signal, you have probably seen a connection entitled “Free Public WiFi” and clicked. Stop clicking!

NPR has a special report explaining how the  “Free Public WiFi” network works (see an example in that photo by zcopley). The “free” option is actually a Windows XP bug that spreads from computer to computer. While it won’t wreck your laptop, it does leave your computer vulnerable. So stop clicking on “Free Public WiFi”  when working at your favorite coffee shop!

Here’s more from NPR: “Free Public WiFi isn’t set up like most wireless networks people use to get to the Internet. Instead, it’s an “ad hoc” network — meaning when a user selects it, he or she isn’t connecting to a router or hot spot, but rather directly to someone else’s computer in the area. … It does, however, provide an access point for hackers to come in and check out the user’s files.” (Via Lifehacker)