Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Free Public WiFi

I’m here at McCarran International in Sin City, en route home. Unlike some airports, they are nice enough to provide free Wi-Fi, with the logical SSID “McCarran WiFi”.

However, when looking around for a hotspot, I saw the ubiquitous “Free Public WiFi” node. From the OS X menu bar, it’s obviously another computer (turns out it’s Windoze) and not a real hotspot. A quick Google (on the McCarran Wi-Fi) showed this explanation from TechBlog which sees it as more benign than a ZDNet posting).

To be on the safe side, I never connect to these peer networks, which points out a security hole in OS X 10.5 (Leopard). When you go to a new location, OS X puts up a window showing all available Wi-Fi connection options, and does not indicate (or give a warning message) for those that are peer-to-peer rather than legitimate base stations. So at the menu bar, the risky connection options are segregated, but not in the screen that everyone sees first.

No comments: