What You Need to Know About Wi-Fi Hotspots

Wi-Fi hotspots are everywhere. These wireless access points are often found in public places such as libraries, airports, hotels, and coffee shops. They can provide allow your smartphone, laptop, or tablet to connect to the Internet. Although free Wi-Fi can sometimes be a blessing, it also has some security issues that you should know of. This is why you should be extra careful every time you are using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. But first, let's start out with the basics.

Where Can You Find Wi-Fi Hotspots

As mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi hotspots are found in public locations. Your smartphone, tablets, laptops, and other wireless devices may notify you when you are in the range of a Wi-Fi hotspot.
If you are not getting any notifications, you can simply go to your network settings to find a Wi-Fi hotspot near you. Here is a list of places where you can most likely get access to a wireless network:

Cafes and Restaurants

Restaurants and coffee shops usually post on their door if they have a Wi-Fi hotspot or not. Some establishments place the password on their napkin holders, or they give them to you after they take your order. Sometimes you may have to ask the staff for the password, especially if they change it to a new one each day.


The coffee shop caters to a lot of employees, freelancers, and students who need access to Wi-Fi. Hence, every Starbucks branch definitely has its own wireless network that you can access. They have their own home screen for their own Wi-Fi hotspot. You just need to accept the terms of the agreement before you can start using their connection.


Most hotels have free Wi-Fi hotspots available for their clients. The desk clerk will usually give the password when you check-in.


Another place where you can surely get a Wi-Fi hotspot is at the airport. All airports have free hotspots to keep their passengers entertained while waiting for their flights.

Shopping Malls

You can also find Wi-Fi hotspots in your local shopping malls. The Wi-Fi is usually slower than usual due to the number of users. Still, there are restaurants inside the mall that have their own separate hotspot. This could be an excellent option for you if you need a more reliable connection.


A library is a place of information, and you can also get a Wi-Fi connection there. Some libraries offer it for free, while some may require you to have a library card to access the hotspot.
If you want a sure list of all the Wi-Fi hotspots in your area or any place you are traveling to, it only takes a quick Google search to get a list.

You have to take note, though, that not all Wi-Fi hotspots are free. Some require you to give login details because they can only provide an hour of Internet usage. Others may need you to pay a fee.

Connecting to a Wi-Fi Hotspot

The moment you find a Wi-Fi hotspot, and you connect to that network, your web browser will pop out and display a web page identifying the hotspot. It also sometimes has a list of terms and conditions. You will have to click on the Accept button to start using the Internet.

If the Wi-Fi hotspot has a password, a box will pop out, asking for the password. Once you enter the password, you will be led to a page showing the terms and conditions of use. You also will have to click on the Accept button to use the Wi-Fi hotspot.

Security Measures when Using a Wi-Fi Hotspot

A Wi-Fi hotspot with no password is not necessarily a good thing. This means it is a public hotspot, which means that you are sharing the connection with anyone. A public hotspot is also more vulnerable. Hackers can easily penetrate it compared to a private Wi-Fi hotspot. It helps to be vigilant when you are accessing a Wi-Fi hotspot. Here is a list of security tips that you should keep in mind:

File sharing

You have to understand how your gadgets share files. For instance, when it comes to Mac laptops, they use AirDrop. A hacker can easily send you a file through AirDrop without your knowledge. It helps to know this so you can tighten your security. Also, it is better to just turn off all your file-sharing apps and file sharing for public access on your devices and laptop.

Install an anti-virus

Protection is essential not only for your computer but also for your other gadgets like your smartphones and tablets. Having an active anti-virus means you get notified every time you are accessing a fishy website. It also blocks pop-ups and unauthorized downloading of files.

Activate your firewall

An active firewall helps prevent the transfer of malware to your device. This can easily happen if you are using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. If someone that shares the connection uses an infected device, the malware can easily transfer to your device through the Internet connection you are sharing.

Use a VPN

Installing a virtual private network will encrypt all the web traffic you have. So, if someone tries to hack you, it will be impossible for the hacker to trace you or read your data.

Quit Connecting Automatically to Network Connections

Turn off your Wi-Fi connections if you step out of your house, so you do not automatically connect to a public Wi-Fi hotspot. It does not take much effort to turn on your network settings manually to connect to a hotspot. It is just a few extra taps to keeps you and your device safe.

If you are using an iPhone, all you have to do is go to Settings, look for Wi-Fi, then turn on the toggle switch for Ask to Join Networks.

  • For Android smartphones, all you have to do is go to Settings, tap on Connections, tap on Wi-Fi, and then go to Advanced to disable.
  • For Macintosh computers, all you have to do is go to System Preferences, look for Network, then select Ask to join new networks.

Using Your Smartphone as a Hotspot

When there is no Wi-Fi hotspot around you, and you really need to go online, you can use your smartphone as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. You can go online using the signal on your phone and use that connection on your laptop.

Take note, though, that using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot can easily drain its battery. Using it as a mobile hotspot may also cause you to consume a lot of your mobile data.

Emil S.

Emil is a Data & Design Specialist with a degree in BS Information System, specializes in Admin Support & Creative Design.

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