This last weekend I was travelling and needed to get onto my hotel’s wifi to get some work done. Many hotels and other public wireless access points require that you not only connect to their network, but then open a browser and agree to their terms and conditions or type in a username or password. They typically will do this by intercepting the first web page request your browser makes (usually to your browser home page) and instead sending you to the page where you have to click “Agree” to something. The problem? More and more, the hotel’s wifi system cannot send you the to the hotspot portal page to agree to their terms. So how do you get around that and get online?
First off, the question is why can’t you load the portal/hotspot page in the first place? Because the portal software that is running the wireless network wasn’t able to intercept your web page request because it was likely to a secure SSL page – which those systems cannot easily intercept (and really shouldn’t be trying to intercept). If they cannot intercept that page request, they can’t then redirect you to the terms and conditions page.
SSL is a great thing to have on websites and should be the default on every site you are visiting (especially if you’re connecting over an unsecured wireless network). Your modern browser is smart enough to default to SSL-based browsing on a web site if it was able to do so before. Even the site you’re reading this article on should be secure, and browsers will remember that (and we also force the issue and you won’t be able to load this site in a non-secure way). There are browser add-ons and plugins that force HTTPS/SSL as much as humanely possible as well.
So how to get around this? With NeverSSL. First, connect to the wireless network you’re trying to connect to on your device (laptop, smartphone, etc…). Then, load up neverssl.com in your device’s browser. Since neverssl.com will never use SSL, it should trigger the page interception and load the hotspot terms and conditions page that you need to click on to connect properly. Then you can browse all the SSL-protected sites you want once you get that initial connection out of the way.
I’ve used this on three networks the last few days that I was having consistent trouble connecting to because most of my pages I visit are SSL/HTTPS pages. This helps that connection happen quickly.
Do Note: While we recommend you only connect to secure password-protected networks to protect your personal data, even those will occasionally require you to agree to something on a web site. This will help with those hotspot connections, too, as they’ll frequently have a terms and conditions page.