Probably not. There are risks.
What you’re doing is very common. With so many open wireless hotspots around, it’s a temptation that’s frequently too hard to resist, particularly when you’re in dire need.
Yet resist it you should.
There are a number of problems connecting to an unknown but open hotspot.
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Connecting to a random wireless network
Connecting to an unrecognized yet open Wi-Fi network raises legal and ethical issues as well as questions about your safety. If you are in dire need, it’s much safer to find a known internet connection such as at your local coffee shop.
Who owns it?
I don’t have a good approach to identifying the owner of an open hotspot.
The access point name or SSID that’s displayed is often a clue, I suppose, but clearly the person who set up the open hotspot you’re seeing didn’t bother to change the default name, so that’s no help at all.
There’s no reliable way to know for sure or track it down without more information.
So we have to assume it’s a poorly configured access point in someone’s home or business.
Is connecting to it legal?
I am not a lawyer, and I don’t even play one on TV. This should not be considered legal advice.
My guess is that it’s very likely that what you’re doing is, in fact, illegal in most places. Naturally, laws and law enforcement vary greatly from location to location. I have no idea what the law is in your location, but it’s safest to assume connecting (and by implication using the WiFi) without permission is illegal.
Is connecting to it ethical?
Even if it’s legal, using someone else’s internet connection without their permission is ethically questionable.
Even if someone leaves their internet connection horribly unprotected in the form of an open Wi-Fi connection, that doesn’t give you the moral right to connect to and use it. For example, they could be on a metered connection, and your use could cost them additional money. At a minimum, it could slow down whatever they might be doing.
That they didn’t set things up properly themselves is no excuse, and it doesn’t give you a pass.
At a practical level, though, legality and morality may not even be your biggest issue.
Is connecting to it safe?
When you connect to the internet, the owner of the connection can see everything you do.
Most of the time, you do not need to be concerned. Your “real” ISP (the one you’re paying money to, and the one who’s apparently coming out on Monday) typically doesn’t care. When you visit a friend, they probably don’t care. When you visit a coffee shop or hotel with free internet, they probably don’t care what you’re doing online.
But they might.
If the person down the street notices that his internet has slowed to a crawl at unexpected times, he will care. If he’s tech-savvy at all, he might well be able to peek at what you’re doing. Even with a simple router or access point, it’s not that difficult to set up a PC with some software to monitor traffic. It’ll be complex data, perhaps difficult for a layperson to interpret completely, but it’s easy to watch and easy to capture.
In the worst-case scenario, that open Wi-Fi hotspot could be set up as a “honeypot”, explicitly designed to lure unsuspecting folks to connect to it. In that case, it almost certainly has malicious intent.
Malware: his, yours, and theirs
You’re exposing your computer to an unknown network.
Since that network has no wireless password, it’s likely the person operating it is less technically savvy than you are. By connecting to their network, you’re about to trust that they’ve set it up properly and securely. The one data point you have says that’s not likely.
Looking at it from the other direction, what happens if your computer has malware and ends up infecting one of the machines on this unknown network? Once again, I’m no lawyer, but I’d expect liability issues can arise should you be discovered as the source.
Just say no.
My suggestion is simple: don’t do it. Just don’t. There’s too much risk — legally, ethically, and technically — if you head down that path.
If you must — if you just can’t help yourself, or if you’ve discovered you’re connecting to a legitimate, legally accessible public Wi-Fi hotspot — then of course you need to treat it as you would any open hotspot: How Do I Use an Open Wi-Fi Hotspot Safely?
In your shoes, I’d wait ’til Monday, or perhaps visit a trusted friend, coffee shop, or library.
I’d also suggest you subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.