Well, I just returned from vacation at a fairly remote part of Cape Cod. So remote, in fact, that Internet access, and frequently cell access, was a faint dream. Still, because I had a compelling urge to check email, especially work-related, I’d head out to one of the distant coffee shops that offered FREE WIFI. I figured it was worth the price of an over-priced, acidic cup of joe to find out what was happening at work, put out any fires that ignited while I was gone, and practice a little CYA, too.
As luck had it, I couldn’t connect to any of the hotspots; or to be more precise, I connected, but couldn’t get Internet access. Fortunately, or not, there were several unprotected wireless nets around. Because this is a vacation area I made a knowingly false assumption that the local town or Chamber of Commerce provided the access. Thus deluded, I blithely accessed all my email accounts over the Web.
So, what was the risk? Was someone really going to hijack my sessions? Probably low, and probably not. But still, the thought lingered as I guiltily checked mail and did a little surfing. And will I do it again? Probably yes. I’m not sure that the advertised hotspots are any more secure than the unprotected ones the PC discovers; just as I’m not sure that labeling a wireless net as “public” means much. Nothing like living fast and loose, huh?