Free Public Wi-Fi

by on January 30, 2008 · 0 comments

When I’ve seen “Free Public Wi-Fi” ad-hoc networks, I always assumed that it was some kind of honey pot. But it turns out that Occam’s Razor applies: it’s just Windows being retarded:

It appears to be a manifestation of a feature of Windows that I wrote about earlier this year. When Windows connects to a network, it retains that network’s name, or SSID, then broadcasts its as an ad hoc network, essentially inviting a connection. You can find more details here. Microsoft has said it will fix this in the next XP service pack; it’s unclear if Windows Vista behaves this way.

So why do you see so many of these? My theory: It’s viral, but not a virus!

What’s the thing almost everyone wants to find when they open a WiFi-enabled notebook and search for a connection? Why, free public WiFi! If you see that — and you don’t know any better — you connect to it.

Wonderful. I’ll refrain from making any smug Mac fanboy comments.

Previous post:

Next post: