Public Wi-Fi Hotspot Security Tips - Why Your Data Isn’t Secure and What You Can Do About It

As more and more people acquire wireless notebooks and logon to the Internet at their favorite public Wi-Fi hotspot, hackers lie in wait, anxious to exploit the vast security vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi. The following article discusses four tips that you can use to fortify your defenses while continuing to enjoy the benefits of public Wi-Fi.

(PRWEB) September 5, 2005 -- As more and more people acquire wireless notebooks and logon to the Internet at their favorite public Wi-Fi hotspot, hackers lie in wait, anxious to exploit the vast security vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi. The following article discusses four tips that you can use to fortify your defenses while continuing to enjoy the benefits of public Wi-Fi.

Four Tips to Enhance Your Security at Public Wi-Fi Hotspots:

Tip #1

Beware the “Evil Twin”. An “Evil Twin” is a hacker operated hotspot designed to trick users into believing it is a legitimate public hotspot by mimicking the legitimate public hotspot's network name and login page (if applicable). Once the user has connected to the “rogue” hotspot, the hacker may even go as far as mimicking login pages for popular email and banking sites thereby stealing the user's most valued login credentials.

A standard protection against this type of attack is to only use public hotspots that provide an SSL-encrypted login connection which has been certified as legitimate by a trusted third party such as Thawte or Verisign. If the login page's URL begins with “https” versus “http” and you see a “lock” icon in the lower right hand corner of your web browser, it is SSL-encrypted. You can view the SSL certificate from your web browser by clicking File > Properties > Certificates

Tip #2

Act as if someone is looking over your shoulder. Existing wireless security standards that use secret network keys (WEP, WPA) are useless at public hotspots as one user's network key can be used by a hacker to decrypt the entire network's traffic. As such, virtually all public hotspots disable WEP and WPA to provide a hassle free login for users. What this means is that your data is not encrypted as it travels through the air and can be read by a hacker using standard command line utilities found in certain operating systems. Unless your company provides you with a VPN (Virtual Private Network), your best bet is to act as if there is always someone looking over your shoulder because someone might be. If you intend to perform financial transactions, ensure that you are doing so over an SSL-encrypted connection.

Tip #3

Configure your wireless network settings as follows in order to prevent a hacker on the local network from obtaining direct access to your computer:

Turn your firewall on: Start > Settings > Network Connections > Wireless Network Connection > Change Advanced Settings > Advanced Tab > Windows Firewall Settings > Select “On” > OK

Turn ad-hoc mode off: Start > Settings > Network Connections > Wireless Network Connection > Change Advanced Settings > Wireless Networks Tab > Select Network > Properties > Uncheck “This is a computer-to-computer (ad-hoc) network” > OK

Disable file sharing: Start > Settings > Network Connections > Wireless Network Connection > Change Advanced Settings > Uncheck “File and Printer Sharing” > OK

Tip #4

Keep both your operating system and anti-virus software current with the latest updates. Operating system security vulnerabilities are being exposed almost as frequently as new viruses are being unleashed on the Internet. Fortunately, the major brands in both product categories offer an automatic update feature which makes receiving the required updates almost effortless.

By employing these four security tips, your data will stay out of the wrong hands while you continue to enjoy the benefits of public Wi-Fi.

About The Author:
Wade McMunn is President of 82nd Street Wireless which provides managed Wi-Fi at hospitality industry locations throughout the United States and Canada.

Contact:
Wade McMunn, President
82nd Street Wireless
(204) 475-4525
http://www.82ndstreetwireless.com

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Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/9/prweb280361.htm