The Wi-Fi Isn’t The Issue

, , , , | Right | March 30, 2020

(A woman comes into the library with her own laptop to use our Wi-Fi. As she’s signing in, she calls me over and points to a line in our user agreement.)

Woman: “What’s this mean?”

Me: “That’s just a notification that our Wi-Fi network is public and we can’t guarantee that it’s 100% secure.”

Woman: “Not secure? What’s that mean? They can steal my identity?!”

Me: “Any information sent over Wi-Fi is potentially vulnerable. So, if you send personal information or financial information, it could possibly be compromised.”

Woman: “That’s insane! Why don’t you have secure Wi-Fi? I’ve had my identity stolen twice, and this is unacceptable. I need to work online!”

Me: “To be clear, we’re no less secure than any standard Wi-Fi network in your house or another public place. We just need to let you know we can’t guarantee security.”

Woman: “That’s crazy! I’ve had my identity stolen twice. I need to be careful!”

Me: “I understand. If you absolutely need to send information online, why don’t you use one of our public terminals? Wired networks are a little more secure than wireless.”

Woman: “Are they secure, though? I had my identity stolen twice! I need them to be secure!”

Me: “They are about as secure as you are going to find. As I say, we can’t 100 % guarantee it, but it’s fairly unlikely anyone would be pulling your information from a wired library network.” 

Woman: “But I need to be careful! I don’t want my identity stolen again…”

(I finally manage to explain to her that if she absolutely needs to send personal information online, there is going to be some risk, but she can minimize it. She gets on a library terminal and works for a while. Then, I see her get up, fish a pack of cigarettes out of her purse, and begin to walk out — leaving her email account logged in and her purse, phone, and laptop on the table.) 

Me: “Ma’am! We don’t recommend that you leave your personal items—”

Woman: “Don’t be silly; this is a library! What’s going to happen?”

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