April 14, 2006
Dear CNET members,
Public Wi-Fi access (free or paid) is one of those services that I find invaluable, and I really can't imagine being without it. In fact, a couple of times in an emergency, it saved me because I dearly needed Internet access (yes, I'm a slave to technology and the Internet). Like you, Dawn, I remember the first time I accessed a paid Wi-Fi service, not at a hotel but at an airport. I was skeptical and hesitant and never knew what to expect--after all it was public Wi-Fi access, and info in the airwaves can be captured. So I'm glad you asked and shared your concerns and want to know more about this topic. While I will let our members' answers address your questions, my tip for you is never to rely on someone's else's Wi-Fi security measures to protect your data--the first line of defense is to put your own firewall in place and constantly update virus protection on your computer. Free Wi-Fi service is great, but honestly, to me, not as safe as paid services, which offer you better protection since most have encryption in place (but then again, there are no guarantees). If you do use free services, don't transmit anything that you wouldn't write on a postcard and send for world to see. So with that said, good luck with your first experience, and I hope it is a positive one. For all members, if you have any additional do's and don'ts about accessing public Wi-Fi, please join us in this week's discussion and share a little about your public Wi-Fi experiences--good or bad. The more we advise one another, the more we'll all be safer using public Wi-Fi services with confidence. Thanks, all!
Member Question of the Week
I will be traveling to a conference in a month, and the hotel that I am staying at has wireless Internet access. My new computer has the capability to access it, but I haven't had the chance to try it out. What should I expect and what do I need to do to be online while there? Additionally are there any do's or don'ts that I should be aware of? I am running a Dell Inspiron 9300 with Windows XP. Thank you!
Dawn C. of Arizona
Wireless Internet access, or Wi-Fi, is something that 10 to 15 years ago, we probably wouldn't have thought would be a reality, and we probably would not have imagined the ways we'd use it. Now those of us who have gone Wi-Fi can't imagine living with out it. Many restaurants, coffee shops, truck stops, and hotels, and even some entire cities, have gone Wi-Fi in efforts to attract customers. And it works; I'm more likely to stay at a...
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