SiliconFilter

Free Internet: 32% of Internet Users Regularly "Borrow" WiFi Access

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Do you ever log on to an open WiFi network that isn’t yours? You’re not alone. While in late 2008, only about 18% of U.S. Internet users admitted to borrowing WiFi from open networks, that number has now grown to 32%. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit trade organization, far too few consumers take the necessary steps to protect their networks today. At the same time, though, the organization’s research also found that “40 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to trust someone with their house key than with their Wi-Fi network password. More than one quarter of those surveyed said sharing their Wi-Fi network password feels more personal than sharing their toothbrush.”

netgear routerClearly, though, not everybody feels the same way and open hotspots are generally plentiful in most neighborhoods. This doesn’t come as a surprise, though. For most mainstream users, setting up a secure network isn’t easy and acronyms like WPA2, WEP, 802.1x and SSID mean nothing to most people and the majority of hardware manufacturers have done little to make setting up secure networks easier for consumers.

Undoubtedly, using open and unencrypted WiFi hotspots comes with a risk for both owners and users. Firesheep has turned the previously difficult art of eavesdropping on WiFi networks as easy as installing a Firefox plugin, after all. Those who own an open network can also never be sure if somebody isn’t using it for some malevolent activity either. In a USA Today article about this study, Chet Wisniewski, a senior security adviser at network security firm Sophos, argues that pedophiles could use the open network to download child pornography and that terrorists in Southeast Asia have used open WiFi networks to “communicate and to remotely trigger bombs.”



10:54 pm


Confirmed: iOS 4.3 Will Feature Personal Hotspots

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After yesterday’s Verizon iPhone announcement, it was already clear that Apple would bring personal hotspots – that is the ability to use the iPhone as a WiFi router for up to 5 devices – to other networks as well. Today, Apple released the first beta of iOS 4.3 for iPhone and iPad to developers and this version does indeed offer personal hotspots just like the Verizon iPhone pundits got to gaze at yesterday.

Now it’s just up to AT&T and friends to actually support this feature and enable them on the carrier side. Given how long it took AT&T to actually support a basic feature like tethering, I’m not holding my breath.

Other new features (mostly for the iPad) according to those who’ve actually seen iOS 4.3:
[list type=”tick”]

  • swipe up to open the multitasking tray
  • swipe left and right to switch apps
  • 4 and 5 finger gestures – though I’m not quite sure what those will be used for, yet
  • the iPad side switch can now be set back to bein an orientation lock (Apple turned it into a mute switch in the last update)
  • AirPlay streaming from third-party apps
  • fullscreen iAds
  • [/list]



    3:12 pm


    When Will AT&T Users Get the Verizon iPhone’s Personal Hotspot Feature?

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    For the most part, today’s Verizon iPhone announcement was exactly in line with what most pundits expected: same phone, different network. One intriguing feature of the Verizon iPhone that AT&T doesn’t currently offer, however, is the ability to turn the phone into a WiFi hotspot for up to 5 devices. Wouldn’t it be nice if AT&T also offered this feature soon?

    AT&T is “Evalutating” This Feature

    There is nothing specifically “Verizon” about this feature. Technically, AT&T’s network is just as capable of supporting this feature as Verizon’s and there are already third-party apps for jailbroken iPhones out there that offer this capability and that work reasonably well. The Verizon iPhones that were on display in New York today ran iOS 4.2.5, a currently unreleased version of the iPhone’s operating system. On Verizon’s iPhones, turning on the hotspot feature is as easy as going to the settings menu and turning the feature on. It’s integrated directly into the OS.

    verizon gets the iphoneThe good folks over at the Business Insider asked AT&T if this feature would make its way to their iPhone as well and a company rep told them that AT&T is “evaluating” this feature but has “no plans to announce today.”

    Just a Question of Time?

    So will AT&T support mobile hotspots once Apple releases the next update to the iOS? My personal guess is that it will take the company a bit longer before it releases this feature to its users. After all, it took AT&T years before it even officially allowed tethering and the hotspot feature would put even more of a strain on the company’s network. For now, I’m guessing AT&T will start offering this feature once the next generation iPhone is available and it will surely charge a hefty fee for this feature as well (we don’t know anything about Verizon’s pricing plans for the iPhone yet, so the price could turn out to be a non-issue). Overall, though, it will only be a matter of time before AT&T users will get this feature as well.



    12:09 pm