Why You Should Never Join "Free Public WiFi"

Last Updated Oct 19, 2010 12:49 PM EDT

You've almost certainly see it: An entry in your list of available Wi-Fi connections called "Free Public Wi-Fi." Maybe you've tried to connect to it (after all, it's free Wi-Fi) and nothing happened. That's because it's not really a working Wi-Fi connection -- but it's a potential vector for malware, so you should always avoid it.


It turns out that the "Free Public WiFi" entry in your list of connections is a byproduct of a Windows XP networking bug that has been rebroadcast over and over, for years, like a sort of unintentional virus. Every time someone tries to connect to this errant network, it gets added to their list of available networks, and becomes an attractive nuisance for others to try to connect to.

All that's well and good -- just a nuisance and a distraction. But it's possible for a malicious user to take advantage of the connection to steal data and login information from your laptop.

Bottom line: "Free Pblic WiFi" is never a valid hotspot. Look for networks which have more legitimate names. [via Lifehacker]

Photo courtesy Cnet News

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