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Public Wireless Hotspots

Public wireless hotspots are becoming increasingly common in coffee shops, libraries, hotels, airports, and book stores. While it is convenient to be able to connect to the Internet anywhere, you should be aware of the security risks of public wireless access. This access can allow hackers to easily access your system. Take these security precautions to help protect your data:

  • Don't sign up for wireless service at the hotspot itself, especially if the provider requires that you create a login and supply personal information. Instead, bookmark the sign-up page and then sign up from a secured location like a home or office computer.
  • Beware of pop-ups--close pop-up windows promptly.
  • Don't enter sensitive information on the web wirelessly unless you're sure the information is encrypted.
  • Only enable your wireless adapter when you're ready to be online. Otherwise, leave it disabled.
  • Install a firewall (or ensure that your firewall is active).
  • If the public network is acting strangely, assume it's compromised. Get off the network and disable your wireless connection immediately.
  • Make your computer's folders private. This makes it more difficult for hackers to access your files.
    • If you are a Windows user:
      1. Click Start then My Computer
      2. Double click the drive where Windows is installed
      3. Double click Documents and Settings
      4. Double click your User Folder
      5. Right click the folder you want to make private
      6. Click Properties
      7. On the Sharing Tab, click "Do not share this folder"
      8. Click OK