You can find a Wi-Fi hot spot just about anywhere now, in airports, restaurants, cafes, or even wider-range public locations. This always-on access to the Internet is great, but it also means that the related security risks follow you wherever you go. In a recent Computerworld article, our own resident Windows hacker, Preston Gralla, outlines the potential hazards and provides concrete steps you can take to protect yourself:
Connecting to a hot spot can be an open invitation to danger. Hot spots are public, open networks that practically invite hacking and snooping. They use unencrypted, insecure connections, but most people treat them as if they are secure private networks.
This could allow anyone nearby to capture your packets and snoop on everything you do when online, including stealing passwords and private information. In addition, it could also allow an intruder to break into your PC without your knowledge.
But there’s plenty you can do to keep yourself safe — and I’ll show you how to do that in this article. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to make secure connections at any hot spot.
The article provides the details, but here’s the rundown of the top 10 tips:
- Disable ad hoc mode
- Turn off file sharing
- Turn off network discovery
- Encrypt your email
- Carry an encrypted USB flash drive
- Protect yourself with a virtual private network
- Disable your wireless adapter
- Watch out for shoulder surfers
- Beware phony hot spots
- Turn on your firewall
It’s a wild, wild wireless world out there. Be safe!