On Hotspots, Hackers Aren’t the Only Ones After Your Private Information

By | May 21, 2014

Don’t just worry about data security on hotspots. Hotspot providers culling metadata pose a bigger threat to privacy

Public hotspots have become the water fountains and restrooms of the digital age: amenities expected of every public venue. But as I wrote in a previous column, they can be a a privacy and security minefield, where the combination of few controls, little oversight and careless users make them a target rich environment for data thieves. But hackers setting up rogue APs and copying every Web page, email, photo and shopping cart you see online pose less risk of data loss than more routine, and entirely legal forms of data mining.


There’s another, more insidious means of privacy invasion while on public networks: metadata tracking. Perhaps the easiest and most common method uses DNS, the Internet’s address book, to record your every move. I have the details, plus advice on protecting your privacy in this column.