Just Make It Work: Avoid the “Free Public WiFi” network

by Meg on March 21, 2011

Just make it work is a series of articles aimed at helping women embrace technology to make their life easier!  Tech for non-tech girls by girls.

Just Make It Work!  Avoid “Free Public WiFi”

While my sister was stuck in an airport this weekend, she exasperated, “This Free Public Wi-Fi won’t connect!!!”  Oddly, even though I have clicked this network over and over myself, in hopes of finally winning the free airport wi-fi lottery, I knew it didn’t work.  That begged the question, “Why have I accepted that this network pops up time again and I accept it wont work?”

What is it?

“Free Public Wi-Fi” is a WiFi network name that will often appear in high traffic public places, such as airports, hotels, coffee shops, etc.

What you should understand:

This network will not work and you risk exposing your files if you connect to it.

“But, I swear I’ve used free public wifi before!

Not to confuse you, but you probably have – just not with this very specific network name.  Many airports and even city centers offer some sort of free wifi.  However, they usually have a different name attached to them.

“So, why does it exist?”

It turns out that this is all due to an old Windows XP glitch.  Trying to be user friendly, if you couldn’t find your normal favorite wi-fi network, XP would try to reach out to other computers to connect to it and create the network itself.

NPR did a great story , with a full explanation.

Moral of the story: Avoid the “Free Public WiFi” network!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: