Free Wifi Can Cost Ya

Other than coffee, what’s the best thing at a coffeeshop? Okay then, other than coffee and hanging out with friends, what the best thing? Okay, other than coffee, hanging out with friends, and music, what’s best?

That’s right- the free wifi.

If you’re anything like me, the coffeeshop is your office away from the office. Or, if you’re trying to sound sophisticated, it’s your satellite location. I like being around people when I work. I tend to work better with a din of background noise and the occasional distraction. That’s why I have Law & Order on the telly pretty much all day when I am in the office.

But it’s not always so free even though you may not pay a connect charge.

Even though most things you do on your laptop at the coffeeshop are okay, financial transactions are not. In other words, do your Net shopping at home. Despite your Norton or McAfee advertised precautions assume that anything you do on a public wifi is open to everyone in there.

A newsletter I just received from Time Warner Business Class (my default ISP) offers the following words of caution…

  1. Free wifi does not offer encryption or security
  2. Avoid business messages containing personal or customer identification
  3. Use only secure protocols to access your e-mail
  4. Use a virtual private network if your organization has one
  5. Watch for old-fashioned eavesdroppers looking over your shoulder
  6. Beware of hotspot hijackers. The network you sign in on might not be the free wifi from the coffeespot. It might be the weird dude beside you.

Don’t do anything stupid. (This tip was from me, not Time Warner).

Don’t let the dangers keep you out of the coffeeshop. Just be careful with what you’re doing.


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