What Does Hotspot Mean?

A hotspot is a specific location that provides Internet access via a wireless local area network (WLAN). The term is generally synonymous with a Wi-Fi connection. A network that creates a hotspot primarily includes a modem and wireless router. The radio frequency (RF) waves sent by the wireless network extend in different directions from its centralized location. These signals become weaker as they travel, either further from the central location or due to interference.


Techopedia Explains Hotspot

There are two types of hotspots:

  • Free WiFi hotspots: Essentially a WiFi router with the password requirements removed, this allows all users in range to access the Internet from the same network.
  • Commercial hotspots: These access points provide wireless coverage for a fee. When using a commercial hotspot to connect to the Internet, a user is usually redirected to a screen requesting login information or payment details.

Hotspots provide convenience to millions of Internet users, but they are rife with security issues. For example, free public hotspots are often the target of hackers and identity thieves. The attackers create rogue or fake hotspots that look identical to legitimate hotspots. If users unknowingly connect to these rogue access points and use their sensitive data for login or a similar purpose, the attackers can then easily retrieve the sensitive data using different techniques.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…