Coffee House Survival Tip: Watch Out for Free WiFi

Connecting to the Internet via WiFi while traveling or in a public coffee houseWhile I don’t normally get into Internet connection tips on this site, the following topic is so important that all entrepreneurs and small business personnel should be made aware of it.

That is: watch out for so-called “free public WiFi” connections.

Let’s say you are traveling on business or just want to enjoy the company of others by going to a public place like a coffee house to work, instead of staying isolated in your office. (Hey, I’ve been on plenty of business calls where I could hear the whir of the espresso machine in the background!)

You open your laptop. You check your wireless connections to see if there is an open and free WiFi network.

You happen upon something called “free public WiFi.” Sounds like exactly what you need, right?

Well, not so fast.

In the past few months as I’ve traveled, I kept coming across these networks designated “free public Wi-Fi” to the point they seemed ubiquitous. But in a way the designation “free public WiFi” struck me as too obvious — like a come-on. Some small voice inside told me to avoid those WiFi networks. Good thing I did.

A recent article in Small Business Computing points out those networks are most likely being set up for nefarious purposes. They are what is known as “ad-hoc” networks and seldom are ad-hoc networks used to deliver Internet access. More likely they are there to spy on computers or infect them with malware. The article also has some good tips for how to recognize an ad-hoc network and avoid having your computer automatically connect to it.

Read it so you can protect yourself when you are working outside the office.

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.