Our lives have become subservient to technology in today's modern world. The Internet, being one of the most prominent inventions of our time, has enabled our global society to evolve. Of late, we have become increasingly dependent on internet usage since its integration with mobile devices. Public WiFi hotspots have become very common, allowing us to access the internet outside our homes at our will.
Although they are not as fast as your typical home-based internet connection, they are still functional for most online activities. But these WiFi hotspots are riddled with major security issues. So, how can you find free but reliable WiFi hotspots near you?
How to Find Free WiFi Hotspots?
Although free WiFi hotspots are ubiquitous, it can be frustrating to find a reliable hotspot when you need it the most. Here is how you can find free WiFi hotspots near you:
Many places offer free WiFi. But when it comes to reliability, coffee shops, public library, and restaurants are the best places to find these hotspots. It is almost impossible to find a restaurant that doesn’t offer free WiFi these days, and most of them even use a sign in the window to indicate the availability. For example, McDonald’s and Starbucks are known for their reliable hotspots.
Some other places you can find free WiFi hotspots are:
- Government buildings
- Public Parks
Although Public places like parks have free WiFi hotspots, the connection is usually poor. On the other hand, some places like Government buildings have a guest network for the public, and they provide you with a password upon request.
Fast-food Restaurants & Stores
Many famous restaurants and stores have free WiFi hotspots. Some offer free access, while others require you to buy something to gain access. The most popular food chains and stores that provide free WiFi hotspots are:
- Burger King
- Taco Bell
- Best Buy
- Tim Hortons
Use an App To Find the Hotspots Near You
Free WiFi is not only available in big chains, it can also be accessed in other places. However, sometimes these places don’t advertise them, so not many people know about the availability of these hotspots. This is where hotspot apps can be beneficial.
Various smartphone and web apps are available to find such free WiFi hotspots. WeFi, Wi-Fi Space, and WiFi Map are the most popular ones in this regard. These apps build global hotspot maps on crowdsourced data. WiFi Map is the most impressive among these apps, as it has over 100 million hotspots in its database. It is also user-friendly and provides you with a list of nearby hotspots after detecting your location. On the other hand, Wi-Fi Space is a web app for people who prefer laptops over smartphones.
If you are not a fan of downloading a separate app, Facebook has a built-in WiFi hotspot finder. However, it isn’t as functional as it doesn’t include passwords for protected networks.
Check If Your Provider Offers Public WiFi Hotspots
Many prominent internet service providers like Spectrum, AT&T, Xfinity, and Cox offer free WiFi hotspots all over the country. Spectrum Wifi Hotspots and AT&T Smart Wifi are two great options offered by the two leading internet service providers. These hotspots are only accessible to their customers and require your subscriber account’s credentials to establish a connection. These providers also offer a convenient app to locate nearby WiFi hotspots. So, you are fortunate if you are subscribed to one of these ISPs, as their WiFi hotspots are much safer than the public ones.
Use the Public WiFi Cautiously
Public WiFi hotspots are vulnerable to numerous cyber issues as they are easily accessible to many people. If internet connectivity is crucial to you even in public, it is better to take necessary measures to ensure you’re well protected. We also recommend avoiding important online activities while using these networks. Here is how you can stay safe on public WiFi networks.
Verify the network: Avoid unrecognized or suspicious WiFi hotspots by verifying the legitimacy of the network.
Use a VPN: A Virtual Private Network protects you by hiding your digital footprint from snoopers. Hence, it makes it impossible for cybercriminals to intercept your data.
Avoid non-encrypted websites: Only visit encrypted websites while using public WiFi hotspots. These websites have “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP” at the beginning of the URL.
Avoid attaching personal/sensitive information in emails: It is better to avoid personal data as hackers can easily intercept information on public networks.
Disable auto-join function: This step is necessary to ensure you don’t automatically connect to an unauthorized network.
Use an antivirus: Antivirus is necessary for protecting your devices from malware.
Public WiFi hotspots are convenient for accessing the internet outside our homes, but they come at a heavy price of weak cybersecurity. However, with our increasing connectivity requirements, they are almost unavoidable. Therefore it is advised to only connect to reliable WiFi hotspots. You can follow our guide to find reliable free WiFi hotspots near your area.