Link in Gramercy, Manhattan

Secure Browsing on LinkNYC’s Wi-Fi Networks

By Intersection

Now that the first Links are here, with many more on the way, New Yorkers, commuters, and visitors from around the world will soon begin to connect to the fastest (and free-est!) municipal Wi-Fi in existence. Here’s what to know about LinkNYC’s networks and an opportunity to brush up on safe public browsing.

LinkNYC has two free Wi-Fi networks, ‘LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi’ and ‘LinkNYC Private.’ Similar to other public Wi-Fi networks you might use in parks or cafés, ‘LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi’ is an open network that relies on web server–based SSL security (URLs that begin with https) for privacy. Websites with the SSL feature will help protect against others from seeing any of the information passing between your device and the Link.

The ‘LinkNYC Private’ network goes a step further, offering state-of-the-art encryption via HotSpot 2.0 and WPA to secure all wireless communications between devices and the Link, regardless of whether a website uses SSL security. This means that even casual browsing is protected from snooping. The network is one of the first in the country to offer an encrypted public network at this scale.

As an additional security measure, HotSpot 2.0 helps your device verify the authenticity of the ‘LinkNYC Private’ network, meaning users needn’t worry about inadvertently joining malicious imposter networks. The profile installed on your device when you join the ‘LinkNYC Private’ network will only work on the LinkNYC network.

During LinkNYC’s beta phase, Private network access is only available on Apple devices enabled with Hotspot 2.0 technology:

  • iPhone 6, 6S, 6 Plus, 6S Plus
  • iPhone 5, 5c and 5s
  • iPad 4th generation
  • iPad Mini (all versions)
  • iPad Air and Pro

We’ll continue to roll out access to other devices over time. But have no fear — both networks will allow you to enjoy free and super fast Wi-Fi!

Tips for Safe Browsing on Open Public Networks

While our team is working day and night to ensure that LinkNYC offers the most robust public Wi-Fi network to ever exist, you should always follow a couple extra precautions while on a public network:

  • HTTPS is your friend. To determine if a website is encrypted and more resistant to shenanigans, check to see if the web address begins with https://. Some browsers also include a padlock icon in the address bar beside https:// to indicate more clearly that your connection is encrypted and you are more securely connected. You should only log in or send personal information to websites you know are fully encrypted.
  • Avoid highly sensitive activities. When you connect through any public Wi-Fi network like ‘LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi,’ anyone in the vicinity can monitor the information passing between your computer and the Wi-Fi hotspot if your connection is not encrypted (like the LinkNYC Private Network). In general, you should avoid sensitive activities like banking or credit card transactions over unencrypted public networks.

Your Personal Info Stays Personal

Finally, your privacy is very important to us and we will never sell any personally identifiable information or share with third parties for their own use. Links will, however, generate anonymized, aggregate data that will help us improve the Link experience and deliver more relevant advertising on the 55” digital screens. We will never serve ads in your browsing experience.

Happy browsing, New York!