The kind folk at Te Papa offer free WiFi – much like many cafes, restaurants and hotels around New Zealand. Just like anything you do online there are some T&Cs that apply… and despite the hassle we should all read them once in a while.
On my recent trip to Wellington I dropped into Te Papa to see the Air New Zealand 75th Anniversary Expedition. It was fantastic in only the way AirNZ could make it – they’ve even got kids uniforms for dress ups. After looking through the exhibit I popped over to the Te Papa Cafe for a drink and connected up to the public WiFi. Golden!
When your computer talks with another computer over a public WiFi network it’s the same as you and a friend talking in a public space. You’d only expect a certain level of privacy talking in a coffee shop, and that’s the same level of privacy you’ll have on the free WiFi that you’ll be connected to. This might be obvious to some – but it’s also very easy to forget. Even easier to forget is all the shared files you have on your laptop – and after umpteen hours of trying to get all your tech syncing in the office you might be surprised at what you’re actually sharing on the cafes free WiFi.
So if you’ve decided to use the free WiFi at your favourite haunt there’s some things you should remember not to do on public WiFi – checking your bank balance is definitely one of them. Not only could the traffic be watched but so could you! If you’re following good security practices you’ll probably be fine, even if you aren’t you’d still have to encounter a baddie to get stung. With todays mobile data plans including more and more bundled data – you’re better off sticking to the monthly phone bill and learning to use your mobile tethering (mobile hotspot) instead of joining a public/free WiFi.
Identity theft is not the only potential disaster – there’s also file security and fraud to worry about – it’s just not worth the risk!