On doggies, a Hot Spot is a localized area of infection on the skin.   On DogGoneComputers, a Hot Spot can be a localized site for infection….

Hot Spots are definitely not good for our doggies and they definitely might not be good for our computers….

OK, I know what a Hot Spot is on my dog.  But what is a Hot Spot in terms of my computer?

Good question!  Keeping it simple, a Hot Spot (also known as a Wi-Fi Hot Spot) is a public area where access to the Internet is offered – wirelessly and usually for free.  Starbucks is a good example of an establishment that offers a Hot Spot.  If you have a wireless equipped laptop, let’s say, you can buy your jug of java joe, find a cozy place to plop down and connect to the internet through the offered Hot Spot Wi-Fi network.  You can stay connected usually until you run out of joe or watch the staff close up for the day.  Hotels, campuses, even stores are now offering Hot Spots for the very mobile computing public.

Really cool stuff, don’t you think?  Well….

If you don’t think, it does sound cool.   BUT, if you do think, you might consider this DogGone Doggie’s advice:      

Hot Spots Aren't Always Cool!

Hot Spots Aren’t Always Cool!

Hot Spot = Bad Spot?  What could be bad about a Hot Spot?  Well, maybe not totally bad…  This Doggie might be giving a bit of a strong “bark”; but his advice is a good caution to keep you from possibly getting “bit” by bugs, viruses and big, bad fanged hackers. 

Bit?  At a Hot Spot?  Yep, it’s very possible.  Be very aware that Wi-Fi Hot Spots generally present serious security risks to users who connect to them.  It would take up too much space to explain why and you probably don’t want to know anyway.  But what you probably do want to know is how to minimize your risks when you connect to networks at Hot Spots.  The following are a few precautions to take to minimize those risks:

  • Use public Hot Spots for basic Internet browsing only.
    • Never use public Hot Spots to do banking, transmit credit card or any other personal information.
    • Don’t use public networks to login to anything personal, not even Web-mail.  The bad guys count on you using the same passwords for everything from email to bank accounts.
    • Be sure your computer’s firewall is enabled.
    • Find out the Hot Spot’s network name (called SSID) before you try to connect to it.  You want to be sure you are connecting to the advertised network rather than a phony and malicious one.
      • REASON:  Identity thieves and hackers can easily setup a free but phony Wi-Fi network. If you don’t check you might be signing onto their malicious site where they are immediately harvesting your personal information, passwords, etc. 
      • Turn OFF shared folders to prevent hackers from uploading malware to your computer over the Hot Spot network.
      • Change the Wireless Network Connection properties on your device from “Automatic Connection” (the default) to “On Demand”.  This will prevent your computer from automatically joining unsafe networks.
      • Watch out for “over the shoulder snoops”.
      • Use common sense.  This probably should be first in the list.  But it can’t be said enough – you are never secure on the internet.  And you are even less safe using Hot Spots.

If this article is but a barking dog, then may this dog proverb prevail –

Barking Dogs

Barking Dogs