Saturday, August 1, 2015

Making sense of Wi-Fi Sense - Different implications of Home vs. Business!

With the roll out of Windows 10, the feature that is ruffling the most feathers is Wi-Fi sense.

What is Wi-Fi Sense? 

Wi-Fi Sense lets you "automatically" share your password to access Internet using your router with a "friend". Before you get all hot and bothered, there are a few caveats:

  • You have to first tell Windows 10 that you do want to share that particular router's information
  • You then have to select which group of contacts (outlook, skype or Facebook) will be able to get this information
  • The contacts have to have a Windows 10 device
  • The password that is shared is encrypted
  • The contact cannot share the connection information with their contacts without knowing the actual password - which they don't because it is encrypted.
  • They cannot connect with Wi-Fi Sense unless they themselves as shared one of their own connections.

What does this all mean in practical terms?

Setting 1 - Home

The most likely setting is when you have a friend visiting your home and needs Internet access.

Scenario 1.
If the following four conditions are met:
  1. They have a Windows 10 device
  2. They have WiFi Sense turned on and are sharing one of their own connections
  3. You have WiFi Sense turned on and are sharing you own Internet connection
  4. They are in your or Skype or FB contact lists
Then they will be automatically connected to the Internet without asking you for the password.
They will not be able to share this information with their own contacts (unless those contacts are also your contacts in one of the three groups listed above).
WiFi Sense options in Windows 10

Thus this scenario does not pose much of a concern for me.

Scenario 2.
There is the alternative scenario that is more bothersome.  Suppose you did NOT turn on WiFi Sense.  Then they will have to ask you for the password.  Often you will just tell them the password or write it down for them.  If they have a Windows 10 device, they can now share this information with their contacts.  This is because they just need to know you password when they elect to share the connection information.

So my suggestion:
If a friend has a Windows 10 device, do one of two things
  1. Turn on WiFi Sense so they get an encrypted password.  The conditions listed above in Scenario 1. would still need to be met.  OR a lot simpler:
  2. Offer to type in the password for them (without them seeing it) on their device and select
    'Not shared'.  If they ever want to turn sharing on, they will be asked for the password which they will not have.  

Setting 2 - Small Business

Now take a different setting - a small business for example
They could actually turn WiFi Sense on and tell people to connect with them on Facebook.
If they do, they would automatically get free WiFi!
This might become a great marketing tool once Windows 10 becomes more ubiquitous.
Of course the person would need to have to use their own Internet access to connect to Facebook first and then they would be able to get WiFi through the small business or they could have added them on Facebook ahead of time.
I am not sure if this would work right now for FB pages or just for FB friends.  But with this does seem quite possible in the not too distant future.