Wednesday, May 13, 2020

What is Wi-Fi and What are Wi-Fi Hotspots

Wi-Fi has been the buzzword among techies and the not-so-techie people alike for quite some time now. And while that is the case, not everyone knows exactly what it means and what it stands for. For starters, Wi-Fi is a brand of wireless technology that is owned by the group called the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The group's aim is to improve the interoperability of wireless local area network (WLAN) products by following the IEEE 802.11 standards.

This technology is usually used by mobile computers although more and more mobile phones and PDAs are designed to be Wi-Fi-enabled. As a wireless network, Wi-Fi does away with the Ethernet cables that used to connect one computer to another as well as one computer to the internet.

Another jargon in the wireless LAN community is called the Wi-Fi hotspot, simply known as hotspot. A hotspot is any public area that offers free or paid wireless internet connection. Some of them cover only a small area (e.g. hotel lobbies), while there are those that cover an entire city (e.g. municipal hotspots).

While having hotspots has made cheap and even free internet connection possible, there are also security issues that accompany this technology.

Some hotspots are intentionally or unintentionally unsecured so that any data sent over the network is unencrypted. Because of this, malicious users can sniff (i.e. monitor) data sent by others who are in the same network.

But several solutions such as having a Virtual Private Network (VPN) are available, although they not widely used because of the costs of implementing them.