Wood TV’s WiFi Scare Mongering

As usual I’m spending some of the morning at Common Ground Coffee Shop. This morning a crew from local news providers, Wood TV 8 channel turned up and filmed those of us making use of the wifi service for a piece they’re preparing on WiFi in the City of Grand Rapids. When they asked to film me, I told them about my WiFi site and they said they may interview me.

But they didn’t. Instead they talked to every other customer using a computer, asking entirely wrong-headed questions about security issues those customers were clearly not all that familiar with. They were suggesting that other customers could be sniffing the network and stealing, for example, banking information. They skipped the fact that every reputable banking site encrypts that data from the web browser to the bank’s server.

There are real issues to be confronted if using WiFi for sensitive work and most people don’t encrypt their email and some usernames/passwords when working on public networks. Software vendors and service providers need to do more to help people learn what and how to encrypt. But most banking sites do a pretty good job of using encryption, as does almost anyone accepting online payments, and it’s not hard for a web user to be shown how to make sure that encryption is being used. And once that’s done you’re probably more at risk from someone watching over your shoulder as from sending the data across the network.

It’s not really that I care to be interviewed by the local (corporate shill) media. It’d be nice to promote a website I work on, but that’s beside the point. What’s really frustrating is having just experienced corporate media scare-mongering so close up but had my offer to clarify the issues rejected. Maybe it’ll all be edited out or someone who understands these things will be invited to comment, but I’m not holding my breath.

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  1. They probably heard you were from Grand Rapids’ SE side, so they were afraid to talk to you, with all the gunshots and all…

  2. But we live in a NE block!

    (Gunshots? I may have missed that?)