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Weekly Privacy Tip: Beware ‘Free Public WiFi’

The seemingly ubiquitous network "Free Public WiFi," which pops up everywhere from airports to cafes — and never actually connects you to the Internet — is actually an "ad hoc" network created by older versions of Microsoft XP. Connecting to it could expose your computer's "shared" files to someone who is using the network to phish for others' personal data. Here are three tips to help:

  1. Simply never join the "Free Public WiFi" network. 
  2. Make sure your "shared" files are actually files you don't mind sharing.
  3. If you have Windows XP, make sure your operating system is updated so you don't inadvertently create and broadcast the network to others. Here's what Microsoft says about updating your system: 
"This issue was fixed in Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Customers who wish to install Windows XP Service Pack 3 can do so by visiting this site."
For more details, listen to or read this report from NPR.

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