More suggestions on Wi-Fi security, junk mail and free Wi-Fi

Share via

Catharine Hamm’s article on “evil twin” Wi-Fi hot spots has a number of security suggestions, which are all good practices [“Airport Wi-Fi May Be Free, but You Might Pay Dearly,” On the Spot, Dec. 2].

Hamm might consider in any follow-up article tying each bit of advice to the threats it protects against. For example, choosing a strong password is of no help if the password is being entered on a web form that’s connected to a fake website or if one is a victim of a “man in the middle” attack, which is perhaps the most common risk of using an “evil twin” Wi-Fi hotspot.

Because the Wi-Fi hotspot is providing your internet access, it can try to trick your device into accessing an imposter site. The VPN suggestion protects against this threat. Strong passwords protect against “dictionary” and “brute force” attacks, where someone (usually using rented “bots”) tries to guess your password, either using a dictionary of common words and passwords or trying all possible combinations of characters.


Hamm might also mention that if you see a warning that a site’s security certificate is invalid, that’s a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored.

Randall Gellens

San Diego

I was hoping to see an aspect of using free Wi-Fi that wasn’t addressed in Hamm’s article: the junk mail that I have received after using it on a recent trip. Ever since my return, I have been getting about 20 junk emails a day. The majority go to the junk-mail folder on my desktop computer, but I’m still having to file them as junk on my iPhone after two months of being home.

People should also be aware of something that happened to me: I used the monthly plan offered by Verizon when I was in Europe, but even though I had told Verizon the dates I was going to be abroad, it was still charging me monthly after I returned. Apparently, it is necessary to call them (which is difficult because of long wait times) to have the charges stopped. Keep an eye on cellphone bills.

Susan Wexler

Huntington Beach

Coffee pot in a hotel bathroom?

The article about AAA inspections of hotels reminded me of an experience I had at a four-star Seattle hotel [“Here’s a Closer Look at the Hotel Inspection Process,” On the Spot by Catharine Hamm, Nov. 25]. To add some context, I travel for pleasure, generally staying in three- or four-star hotels. This year I covered eight countries, mostly in Europe, and I’ve never come across this situation.

I was shocked to find a pod-style coffee maker plus all accouterments in the bathroom. The bedroom was large, so there was no need for it to be in the bathroom. My shock turned to horror when I tried to remove it only to find it was gripped in position by some kind of slime. I told the front desk about my concerns, and they just didn’t get what I was talking about.

I got the coffee maker replaced but decided to stick to the coffee available in the foyer as I had, and still do have, a lack of confidence in the hotel’s attitude about hygiene and safety if they think it’s OK to brew coffee next to a toilet.


I won’t be staying there again.

But is it just me? I told several friends about this, expecting to hear a loud chorus of “yucks,” but a significant minority gave me the same blank look as the Seattle hotel front desk.

Peta Noble

Rolling Hills

Quite a site in Cleveland

As someone with family in northeast Ohio, I enjoyed the story about downtown Cleveland and Severance Hall [“Classical’s Luxe Cleveland Home,” by Christopher Reynolds, Nov. 25].

The article mentions Heinen’s Grocery Store but did not include it in the highlights section. This store, in a restored historic bank building, is the most beautiful one I have ever seen. It offers prepared foods and a salad bar along with seating under a glorious rotunda. A second level serves wine.

Visitors to downtown Cleveland should make time to see Heinen’s grocery store — really.

Robin Pittman

Manhattan Beach