In hot pursuit of a wireless hotspot

I’m currently in the country with no means of regular high-speed Internet access. I have found that I can connect to various unsecured wireless networks in a range of about two miles with where I currently am.

My question is whether this is legal or not. Computers are not my strong point. I just want to be able to access the Internet.– Mds915.

Remember these 3 words: “theft of service.” As a general rule, accessing the Internet using a connection that you haven’t paid to use just could be the thing to get you into trouble.

Unsecured access points may not be what they seem, they might just be a lure to get to you connect to what appears to be the Internet but might end up making your computer being a worker bee in one of those botnets that we seem to keep hearing about.

Most hotels offer some type of complimentary internet access for their guests while they are staying at the hotel.

There are several ways to find an open hotspot that is available to use and just could be free.

I went to Google and used the keywords “public hotspot” to find several open-hotspot directories.

If you are using a hotspot for “temporary” internet access, think about paying a little bit to the provider to help offset their expenses.

Running a hotspot isn’t free and paying a bit shows that this is appreciated. Depending on how long your stay will be and how much traveling you may be doing, you may want to look at one of the commercial offerings from companies such as T-Mobile.

Another option is to see what sort of data access your cell phone has. Some U.S. carriers – such as Sprint – have a mobile broadband offering that allow you to access the Internet just about anywhere they offer cell service.

This comes at a price. This is where checking the plan that you have as to how much data access it covers. If you are using a phone from your home country, it may cost more to access the Internet using your cell phone that it is worth. It may be worth while trying to see about getting a short term contract with a mobile broadband provider for your stay here.

Once you have your method of access taken care of, even if it is using some type of encryption (most that I have seen aren’t running any encryption), consider using a Wi-Fi-based VPN from companies such as and – which offer you a way to provide some protection while you are accessing the Internet using Wi-Fi. Basically what these do is to encrypt all your network traffic.

Make sure that you have some type of firewall installed on your computer and that you have the latest patches installed.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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