Wireless hotspots are getting more popular these days, but not everyone knows what they are and how they work.
Wireless hotspot is basically wireless access points, usually in public locations, that offers internet access to all mobile devices such as your smartphones, laptop or tablets when you are away from home or away from the office.
Typical venues where you can find access to Wi-Fi hotspot include cafes, airports, libraries, and hotels. Hotspots are useful as they make it possible for people to get online wherever they may be as long as Wi-Fi is accessible, but they come with their fair share of security concerns.
How to Find a Hotspot
When you are in the range of wireless networks, you may get notified by your wireless-equipped laptop and other devices, such as tablets and smartphones.
If you do not get a notification that there are is an available wireless network in your area when indeed there is one, all you need to do is go to the network settings to search area hotspots.
You will find hotspots in many public places. For instance:
- When you go to a Starbucks or one of the many standard coffee shops, your smartphone should notify you of the Wi-Fi hotspot in the area. Each store usually has a home screen for its hotspot. Once you accept the set terms of the hotspot agreement, you’ll be connected.
- Restaurants that have a hotspot might post the information at the entrance or on a table tent card. You may need to request for the password of the hotspot to sign on to the service.
- When you put up in a hotel, you will need to ask the desk clerk for the password to the Wi-Fi or for the sign-in process. The service may come as a complimentary one, or you may be required to pay a daily fee to use it.
- Most airports have free hotspots and have the login procedure displayed throughout the terminals. Shopping malls also offer hotspots and may post login information around the mall.
- Many bookstores also have hotspots only for their customers.
- Libraries and other public buildings usually have free Wi-Fi hotspots.
A fast internet search for open hotspots in your town, city, or in a city you plan to visit soon will show you a list of locations where there is access to the internet. Although most public hotspots are free, some hotspots might require that you pay a specific fee or subscription.
Connect to a Hotspot
When the network of a Wi-Fi hotspot is hidden or encrypted, you will need to obtain the security key and the name of the network (SSID) information from the provider of the hotspot service to locate and correctly establish the network connection.
You will need to accept or initiate a connection to the desired hotspot’s wireless network, which will be identified in the network name.
You need to take security precautions when making you use of a hotspot
It is good to use an open hotspot, but the problem with the public hotspot is that they are open to the general public. You could be sharing a single connection with any person at any time.
A hotspot is not your home or your office password-protected Wi-Fi router. It is easier for hackers can hack into a public hotspot than to hack a private access point.
Below are some precautions that you can take before you sign in to a hotspot:
- Understand how your mobile device or laptop shares files and tighten the privileges. For instance, Mac laptops use AirDrop. Depending on the settings of your device, a hacker could easily send a file to your Mac with AirDrop without your knowledge.
- Make sure to turn off file sharing specifically for public access folders on your phones, laptop, and other devices.
- Have anti-virus protection installed for your Android phone, iPad, or any other smart device that you use with a public hotspot. You must also activate the firewall on your device to stop the transmission of malware from an infected device that might be connected to the hotspot.
- Have a VPN Installed on your device. When you have a virtual private network, it encrypts all your web traffic, so that even if you get hacked, your data remains impossible to read.
- Turn off automatic connections to nearby networks.
Turn Off Automatic Network Connections
Some mobile phones and laptops will automatically connect to an open hotspot when it is an inaccessible range, but this is not a good idea for security reasons, especially when the hotspot doesn’t have password protection.
In most cases, people can prevent this with a menu setting. The location varies according to the device.
About Mobile Hotspots
When you find yourself in a location where there is no hotspot, and you have to be online, your smartphone will be able to serve as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.
If your device has this capability, you can connect to the internet by using the cellular signal on your smartphone, and share that connection with your PC.
Using a mobile hotspot might not precisely be smart as it drains a phone battery quite faster than normal, and the hotspot may make use of a significant portion of your set data limit.
Depending on the cellular network available — 3G, 4G, or LTE — the connection speed may not be as fast the home connection you are used to (with any except LTE), but when it is the only available internet connection, it may be worth it.
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If you don’t want to drain your smartphone battery, buy a stand-alone device that provides mobile hotspots. These devices require cellular connections and contracts. Also, the device must be able to access a cellular signal. If there is no cell coverage, look for a hotspot at a coffee shop or shopping mall.