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Secure Your Laptop at Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

April 8, 2014

There are many public Wi-Fi hotspots that do not use any encryption. Many users use these public open hotspots, to do their personal internet surfing. I know I have done it. You should assume that anyone can see your Internet traffic unless you take precautions. All these steps can be done easily and free, in a couple minutes.

First and most important verify that the hotspot you are connecting to is the valid one. Some hackers have apartments next to public places and provide free Wi-Fi with a name that looks legitimate. If you happen to get on one of these "fake" hotspots and surf the internet the hacker can see and record your every move on the internet using their Wi-Fi. If you happen to put a password in a site that isn't correctly encrypted, the hacker will have your log on information for that site. You may think that you are safe, if it is just a blog or some other site that doesn't have any of my personal information. It won't be terrible if a hacker gets that login, what can they do with that? Yeah, that wouldn't be to profitable for them. . .Think again if you are like most users, you have the same username/email and same password for a lot of sites. Or if the hacker gets your email address and your password, they may get your method for your password. Say, the hackers get my password for this one site, which is my name backwards, 'nadroJ'. The hacker tries my email in PayPal, with that password, it doesn't work, then he tries 'swehttaM', my last name backwards, it works. He now has access to my PayPal. Now I never use those for my passwords, but working it IT, I have seen passwords like that used so often. I use to work in a small company and everyone would tell me their passwords. I had the server set, so that the users were required to change passwords every 90 days, after a while I knew the method how most employees created their password. I could try a couple passwords and could almost always get into everyone employee's account after 5-10 tries. Enough with passwords for now, you get the point. I think I need to create a post on password security later.

Verify that your laptop's firewall is turned on, and Windows' file-sharing feature is turned off. To verify this, go to Control Panel and choose 'Windows Firewall'. In XP, select the Exceptions tab, and look in the Programs and Services to make sure "File and Printer Sharing" is unchecked. In Vista, click Change settings, then select the Exceptions tab and follow the instructions for XP.

Never send bank passwords, credit card numbers, confidential e-mail, or other sensitive data unless you're sure you're on a secure site: Look for the lock icon in the bottom-right corner of your browser, as well as a URL in the address bar that begins with https. Such sites build in their own encryption.

Always turn your Wi-Fi radio off when you're not at a hotspot: Hackers can use it to create peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connections with your computer and access it directly.

Follow the previous steps to secure your laptop now and save yourself from getting your personal information confiscated.

Jordan M Matthews


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