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When you are on the move and using a Wi-Fi hotspot provided in a coffee shop, bookstore, campus, or airport you need to be wary of hackers waiting to access your network or steal your information. Most public Wi-Fi hotspots do not provide security protection for their users. Here are some ideas to make those hotspots safer:

  1. Hackers are able to capture network traffic with little effort and chance of being caught. Make sure that sensitive data is encrypted during transport and not sent in clear-text. Only submit your credit card and other personal information to secure websites.  How do you tell if your communications are protected (encrypted)?  Web browsers use various methods to notify the user that the connection is secure such as:
  • changing http:// to https:// by adding an “s”
  • displaying a gold lock symbol
  • changing the color of the address bar
  • notifying the user that the browser session is encrypted
  • displaying a browser alert message when a site’s security certification is invalid
  1. Configure your laptop to allow only connections to approved access points.
  • Disable Automatic Wireless connections
  • Verify that you are connecting to the appropriate SSID
  • Disable ad-hoc capability which allows other wireless users to connect directly to your laptop
  • Disable your wireless card when not in use
  1. Disable File and Printer Sharing to prevent disclosure of your shared files and to reduce the chances of your computer being compromised.
  2. Use a personal firewall.
  3. Use anti-virus and anti-spyware protection software.
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