Securing your home network is simple enough, but it is something of a different story when you’re out and about making use of public wifi. It is easy to forget that when you are sitting in a coffee shop taking advantage of a free internet connection with your Surface or Windows 8.1 laptop, it’s highly likely that your data is being transmitted completely unencrypted. Wifi Dashboard serves as a helpful reminder, letting you know whenever you are working on an insecure network.
The idea is very simple; a color coded system lets you know the security level of the network you are connected to at a glance. When you’re connected to an insecure network (including those with WEPenabled), a red warning is displayed; for networks with WPA or WPA2, a blue warning is used; the ideal green indicator is used only when connected to a network through a secure VPN.
The notification appears as a live tile, and this is where Wifi Dashboard falls down slightly. In fact it is almost a shame that this is a only modern app. As the security information is display on a live tile, it is only visible when you pull up the Start screen. This is helpful to some extent, but it would be helpful if there was also an icon in the notification area of the taskbar.
If you remember to visit the Start screen to check how the current network has been labeled, it’s a helpful reminder — but the chances are that you’ll just connect to the network and start browsing the web. You’ll need to train yourself to check the status.
The app is available free of charge, so there’s nothing to be lost in trying it out. If nothing else, it may help you to get into the habit of checking the encryption used by a network before you connect to it, or even encourage you to start using a VPN. It’s worth noting that Wifi Dashboard is developed by Private Communications Corp, which has its own VPN software to push (Private Wifi) which is available for a monthly fee), but there are other options out there.