Starbucks offers free internet access!

Starbucks announced a plan to offer free Internet access at 11,000 locations.  As an entrepreneur, coffee shop has become my primary sales office.  Apart from coffee and food, coffee shops also give us tables, comfortable chairs, and quiet environment.  Now, Starbucks offers free Wi-Fi.  What else can we expect?  I believe very soon other coffee shops have to follow Starbucks’ footstep and offer free Wi-Fi.

However, I would like to draw your attention that most Wi-Fi hotspots don’t use encryption to scramble the data being sent to and from our computer and the hotspot. This means anyone with the right tools, can potentially intercept the raw data packets of our connection which may include your online identity; i.e. username and password. 

So if we have to transfer any sensitive information, we have to make sure that we are connected to the website through Secure Socket Layer (SSL). 

The first URL starts with https, indicates a SSL connection is used.


The second one is simple http connection, without any encryption.


Email is also a concern.  By default, most email services providers do not encrypt  email content so any sensitive information in our email is not secured.  Always make sure to configure the server connection settings with SSL enabled.

Another potential risk is the data on our laptop.  If our firewall or sharing settings aren’t properly configured, then hackers at the hotspot location can access to our data – not good.

If you often work at coffee shop or other public place with Wi-Fi, then you must work with a security consultant to make sure your computer is not compromised.

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

About Andrew Chan
Andrew Chan is an Business Consultant who gives you accurate, consistent and timely information so that you can make better and faster decisions. He is an Associate of Society of Actuaries with over 20 years of IT experience. Apart from strong analytical skills and proven technical background, he was also a former system director at Manulife who had extensive project management experience. If you are looking for someone to gather, consolidate, validate, visualize and analyze data, look no further! Andrew can provide the most cost effective business analytics solution so that you can explore, optimize, predict and visualize your business. Don’t guess on any decision, no matter it is finance, operation, marketing or sales! Always ask for evidence!

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