Hot spots are popping up everywhere. Hot spots -- wireless access points -- connect laptop, smart phone and other mobile device users to the Internet via high-speed networks in public locations.
According to JiWire, a media company that maintains a hot spot registry, there were more than 92,000 hot spots in the U.S. as of April 2011. The U.S. is third in the top ten countries by number of hot spots. The United Kingdom is first with over 143,000, and China is second with over 102,000.
How do you access a hot spot?
First, your computer must have wireless Internet capabilities. Hot spots are commonly found in public spaces and buildings, cafes and coffee shops, hotels, libraries, universities and airports. With over 550 thousand hot spots in 143 countries, the list is endless. New Web sites such as Wi-FiHotSpotList.com
have interactive directories that help you locate the nearest hot spot.
Is this invisible wireless service free?
lists all the free hot spots available in each state. However, access isn't always free. Some cellular and Internet providers offer monthly or pay-as-you-go plans. Each business will differ in its service providers, so check the rates before you give out your credit card number.
While having the option of working outside an office is great, there are some risks.
By connecting your computer or mobile device to open networks, it is susceptible to peer-to-peer hacking and file sharing. If your laptop is not protected, hackers can implant spyware and viruses, browse your files, and record your Internet activity. Ian Forkash, client desktop analyst with Credit Union National Association's information technology department, offers this security advice:
* Install a personal firewall and antivirus software
* Update antivirus definitions regularly
* Get computer updates
* Install operating system patches