As consumers take technology mobile, they require flexible and adaptable wireless options that also serve to keep information private. Many are turning to one of two of the best solutions, which include private “hotspots” and a technique known as tethering. Yet, even these options aren’t without drawbacks.
Private Mobile Hotspots
Mobile “hotspots” are essentially small, private wireless networks or routers that offer extreme portability. They can be purchased through major wireless carriers and provide a safe, secure, wireless Internet connection.
Experts at respected publications including the Wall Street Journal, PC Mag, and CNET recommend them as a superior alternative to public Wi-Fi, which is notoriously risky. One of the most technologically advanced hotspots is the popular “MiFi” from Verizon, which is capable of connecting devices to a robust 4G network. With a 2-year contract, the MiFi unit is usually free, although there is a monthly access charge of around $20.
Data plans for hotspots tend to be considerably more expensive than standard home Internet service, so choose carefully and consider your typical data usage habits before signing a hotspot contract.
With tethering, on the other hand, a smartphone can be used as a wireless modem or mobile “hotspot.” Tethering is available to anyone whose cell phone carrier and portable device support this kind of connection-sharing technique. When available, the setup is relatively simple and is done within the “settings” section of the smartphone. Tethering can also be accomplished via a Bluetooth or USB connection between the smartphone and a laptop or similar device, but it usually requires the consumer to pay a tethering fee in addition to paying for the data used.
Tethering may also suddenly and drastically drain a smartphone’s battery. If you’re going to tether and won’t be near an outlet, keep a high-powered portable charger at the ready to recharge your battery in a pinch. When fully charged, these devices can store a tremendous amount of electrical power in a small space, and many affordable charging units are available in stores that carry smartphone and laptop computer accessories. Many of today’s newer cars also come equipped with 12-volt outlets or USB ports, and these work great for charging portable devices while on the road or otherwise off the grid.
Being smart with technology on the go means staying aware. Even with gadgets and access points that promise a secure network experience, it’s always best to play it safe by not sharing personal information, accessing highly secure sites (e.g., banks), or accepting prompts from unknown sources that come in the form of a pop-up. All out skepticism when it comes to protecting your privacy may be just the approach needed to ensure that top-secret email remains just that.