Public Wifi privacy concerns

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Generic-AndroidMore and more we hear about tracking via public Wifi and also hacking and other issues. AVG offers a service here for Android phones (and I have no affiliation with the company other than that I use their FREE anti-virus program and have been doing so for many, many years without fault) as part of AVG PrivacyFix. This feature is called “WiFi Do Not Track”.

AVG PrivacyFix's new WiFi Do Not Track feature addresses the growing concern of public WiFi networks that track your location as you move from place to place.

Simply approve the networks you know and WiFi Do Not Track will prevent all other networks from tracking your mobile device.

The other and much safer answer is not to use any public WiFi, period. That, would be my suggestion, and also disabling the GPS feature on your so-called smart-phone. Aside from the fact that disabling that, and WiFi, seriously extends your battery life it also seriously protects your privacy.

Your cell phone, whether smart-phone or the older style, is a phone, primarily, and also very useful for sending short text messages. But emails and web surfing, I am sure, can wait till one gets to one's own computer within a more or less protected environment.

While I am a Blackberry® user, and thus do have and use a smart-phone, for reasons or privacy, primarily, and safety, I will not use email or web features and neither any GPS. In addition to that it drains the battery something chronic to such an extent – and I found that to be true with many other devices also – that charging is required several times a day.

We seem to have become so bound up with our cell phones and nowadays our smart-phones that they seem to have become almost an extension of us – though I am happy to exclude myself there – and all too many people seem to be unable to even put them out of their hands. The device seems to be permanently attached to them. Why, pray, does everyone want to be so busy?

In the days not even so long ago, before cell phones, email and social media, we did not have to be so attached to our communications. While there were public phone booths, and in some cases galore, there never were much of a queue outside of them bar at railways stations and such and no one carried a mailbox with them, that is for sure.

Today, however, the phone and the mailbox are always with them, always on, and as soon as a email alert pings on their device it must be answered, even if they are at a meal with others or in a conversation. The thing can also not possibly be in the bag or pocket; it has to be plonked on the table, visible to all, or even played with in one's hand while having a conversation, checking all the time “just in case” of an “important” message.

The art of conversation, meaningful conversation, has gone out of the window as the cell phone is allowed to interrupt any attempt of it and let's not even talk about the art, and an art it is, of letter writing. Emails, as far as I am concerned, are letters only delivered via an electronic postie and thus should be structured like a written letter would be, regardless whether they be private or business letters. A little courtesy and style goes a long way. But I digressed somewhat.

While AVG offers you a protection for your Android smart-phone to avoid being tracked and protection of your privacy the best protection is to, as far as possible, stop using your smart-phone as a computer and as an extension of yourself and use some common sense. Some “public” WiFi hotspots are also used by hackers and cyber criminals – they actually have set them up – and others, some might even think government agencies, as a means of intercepting your communications and gaining access to your email accounts and others.

Be safe, turn WiFi (and GPS) off... period! And maybe even the Internet also on your device.

© 2013