Google Gives You Free Airport Wi-Fi for the Holidays

Free Google Airport Wifi

The spirit of giving has hit Google. They are generously providing free Wi-Fi at 47 airports from November 10, 2009 to January 15, 2010. That’s great, but there are a few precautions you should take to keep yourself safe.

Google’s Free Wi-Fi

Using the free service is simple. You simply select the free Wi-Fi and accept the terms of service and there’s no need to give any form of payment. However, Google wants you to catch the giving spirit and give a donation to any of the three non-profit organizations they’ve partnered with. But, donate once you’re using a secure Internet connection at home – not on the Wi-Fi network. In addition to providing free Wi-Fi, Google’s having a photo contest. You could win a prize just for submitting a photo of you using the free Wi-Fi.

Participating Airports

You can take advantage of Google’s generosity at one of the following 47 airports:

Austin (AUS) Indianapolis (IND) Panama City, FL (PFN)
Baltimore (BWI) Jacksonville, FL (JAX) Pittsburgh, PA (PIT)
Billings (BIL) Kalamazoo (AZO) Portland, ME (PWM)
Boston (BOS) Las Vegas (LAS) Sacramento (SMF)
Bozeman (BZN) Louisville (SDF) San Antonio (SAT)
Buffalo, NY (BUF) Madison (MSN) San Diego (SAN)
Burbank (BUR) Memphis (MEM) San Jose (SJC)
Central Wisconsin (CWA) Miami (MIA) Seattle (SEA)*
Charlotte, NC (CLT) Milwaukee (MKE) South Bend (SBN)
Des Moines (DSM) Monterey (MRY) Spokane (GEG)
El Paso (ELP) Nashville (BNA) St. Louis (STL)
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Newport News (PHF) State College (SCE)
Fort Myers (RSW) Norfolk (ORF) Toledo (TOL)
Greensboro (GSO) Oklahoma City (OKC) Travers City (TVC)
Houston Hobby (HOU) Omaha (OMA) West Palm Beach (PBI)
Houston Bush (IAH) Orlando (MCO)

*Seattle launches late November

Reasons to be Cautious

Airport Wi-Fi – like other public hotspots – is not secure and you should avoid logging into your bank account or other sites with sensitive info. Wireless network security can be compromised and put your passwords and other data out in the air and available to a fellow traveler with the right hacking tools.

We don’t mean to scare you out of using the Google’s Wi-Fi gift but to educate you about the potential risks

How to Protect Yourself

Here are some tips on how to protect yourself when using any Wi-Fi connection:

  • Google has said that their free Wi-Fi network names will vary at each airport. We’ll try to provide a list of those names as soon as we can.
  • Make sure that you’re connected to a legit network. I’m guessing there will be many Google copycats this holiday season.
  • Turn off your Wi-Fi auto login feature. This way you’ll log in when you’re ready and to the network of your choosing.
  • Disable sharing, especially if your laptop is networked to storage devices or computers at home.
  • Use a firewall.
  • Avoid entering sensitive data like credit card numbers or critical passwords while connected to a wireless network.
  • Disconnect from the network when you’re done.

This video from Forbes provides more details on what you should watch out for:

Check out Google’s Free Wi-Fi for the Holidays site and their FAQ page for more details.

Author: Dave Nielsen

I started using computers in 1978 on the Apple II and was first online (using my “high-speed” 1200 baud modem) in 1989. I’ve managed web sites for several Fortune 500 companies and for internet start-ups. Working for one of those start-ups is what brought me into the world of credit. I was part of the the executive team that ran QSpace, the first company to offer credit reports over the internet.

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