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Wi-Fi and Hot-Spot Wireless Networking – How to Keep You and Your Computer Safe

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If you are one of the many wireless networking computer users that travels or uses any one of the Wi-Fi ‘hot spots’ that are out there, are you aware of the potential danger lurking around such networks? This article will help you stay safe while surfing while ‘on the road’.There are a lot of free and ‘for pay’ Wi-Fi hot spots appearing these days. A lot of businesses are recognizing the benefit of providing free Internet access to their patrons. And there are a lot of non-commercial places where you can go to get connected without having to such as libraries or other public gathering locations.But there is a problem with these hot-spots. Whether they are free or you have to pay for access, very few of these provide any type of network security. There are exceptions but for the most part, these hot-spots have no security or encryption enabled which means that not only can anyone gain access to the network they can gain access to any and everyone’s data transmission!What this means to you as a user of an unprotected network is that everything you send or receive while attached to that network is free and clear for interception and interpretation by anyone wanting to read your transmissions.Another danger is that without some sort of security, criminal sorts could set up an alias wireless network in a nearby location that looks like a safe network. For instance, you could be at the airport in a café named “Joe Bob’s Coffee Shop”. You look for a Wi-Fi network to connect to and you see “Joe Bab’s Coffee Shop” network. You logon and begin surfing while enjoying a café latte. If you look closely, you have logged onto a fake network and everything you do could be intercepted – usernames, passwords, account numbers…whatever.There are few things you can do to protect yourself. The first is the easiest – do not log onto an unsecured network. Check with the owner to ensure that they are providing the service themselves and that you are able to authenticate a verified user log on. If they just stare at you like a deer in headlights, just wait until you reach another location and can verify the security of the Wi-Fi.Another step is to establish and use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN provides security even without any WEP or WPA airlink encryption by encrypting all inbound and outbound traffic. Even if someone was able to intercept and read your transmissions, it would be gibberish and unreadable without the proper cipher to decrypt the data.If you have to get online and cannot establish a VPN, then you should ‘practice safe surfing’. This starts with verification of the SSID that you are attempting to connect to and make sure it is the exact network to which you want to log in. Don’t log in if the SSID is anything but identical to the one advertised as being provided in the location you’re in.Once you are logged in, make sure that any sensitive traffic you engage in is over a secured site. Look for the certificate indicator in your browser and make sure any addresses for which you exchange information has the ‘https’ URL designator indicating a secure site.

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Written by hintonfran6

July 31, 2013 at 3:57 pm

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