Wi-Fi Hotspot Security
You've set up your Boingo account, you're hanging out at the Home Turf sports bar in LAX and you figure you'll do a little business or check your e-mail while sipping a Chardonnay. Well, that's the point of all this; being able to take care of a few things while in a relaxing atmosphere.
Don't, however, get so relaxed that you ignore security and give all your confidential information to some unscrupulous hacker. Yeah, you see the guy. He's over in the corner wearing that fake nose and glasses with the ridiculous Bozo the Clown cap. Yep, drinking a Blatz. Dead give away.
Sorry, they won't be that obvious, I doubt they ever drink Blatz and very seldom wear clown caps. When you're thinking back, trying to remember who was around when your password was stolen, you probably won't remember the woman in the tastefully tailored business suit, and if, by chance, you do, she won't be the one you suspect. The best defense is to implement some simple security practices and measures that will safeguard your business and personal information.
Hot Spot Security: Simple Stuff
Speaking of passwords:
Use a Personal Firewall.
Most of the reasons for using a firewall should be self-evident but, to say the least, you'll want to be made aware of any traffic coming or going and any unusual communication between applications.
Hot Spot Security: Less Simple Stuff
There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from 'Evil Twins':
Encrypt Confidential Information
When sending e-mail there are a few things you can do to safeguard yourself. For example, instead of using Outlook or Thunderbird, take advantage of your ISP's Web interface which, in most cases, will be secure and should protect your data during transmission.
If you frequently encounter the need to send large files via e-mail then using a compression program will meet your need to reduce the size of the file and most compression programs will also secure the data with encryption.
Another option is to use a free encryption program like Cryptainer LE. Cryptainer LE can encrypt any or all the files stored on your hard drive, protecting them in case your laptop is stolen or compromised, as well as allow you to e-mail them with the security of encryption. Cryptainer PE is also offered for enterprise applications.
Use a Virtual Private Network
Mac OS X™, Windows™ 2000 and Windows™ XP have built in VPN clients and if you're a user of Windows™ 98, ME or NT you can download the free Microsoft® L2TP/IPSec VPN Client from Microsoft®. If you're a Linux user you can download the free S/WAN VPN client.
While the use of a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your confidential data when you're using a Wi-Fi hotspot it is, unfortunately, limited to communication between your laptop and your company's server. If you want to conduct personal business with similar security levels the best solution is the award winning GoToMyPC software.
Use Anti-Virus Software
Once you've got the software up and running make sure that it's updated on a regular basis and update it anytime you hear about a new virus or a new version of an old virus. If you've got an auto-update feature built into your program make sure you take advantage of it.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phil Haley is a technical writer and the editor of Refurbished Laptop Computer Info. For more information regarding buying, maintaining, upgrading or enjoying a laptop computer visit Refurbished Laptop Computer Info.