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Tips for hot spot security

Comfortable? Enjoying your coffee at the corner café while watching the world go by? And so you should, it’s a lovely day outside. You’ve even got your notebook on the table, finishing some work; life is good.  But what about the guy up the back? Think he’s also enjoying a large decaf while working out of the office?

No, he’s actually enjoying himself looking at the websites you’re visiting and busily searching your notebook and taking everything he’s interested in.

Public place vs. private property
it may sound far-fetched, but this happens every day to people using unprotected public Wi-Fi networks. While the wireless network at your home or business is (hopefully always) protected by decent levels of encryption using WPA or WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) certified programs, many public Wi-Fi hot spots do not provide such basic security. But why is encryption so important? And is it difficult to organize?

Keep it to yourself
as the saying goes, if you want to keep a secret, don’t tell anyone.

This means keeping quiet about your wireless connection, and encrypting your data so that everything going into and out of your notebook is coded and can’t be viewed, tracked or enabled to provide access to your files.

But at a public area hot spot (any physical location where you connect to the Internet via a wireless LAN access point), the odds are high that it isn’t protected and doesn’t offer encryption. And this means you’re wide open to security problems. Thankfully, it isn’t difficult to stay secure and protect your business data.

First steps to protect yourself
1. Check no-one’s looking over your shoulder!
2. Block unauthorized access with firewall software such as the pre-installed Windows® Firewall.
3. Before entering a hot spot, deactivate all automatic connectivity functions from file and printer sharing to your Wi-Fi ad hoc networking mode. This ensures a strong second line of defense against people accessing your system.

a. Disable File and Printer Sharing:

  • Go to StartSettingsControl Panel.
  • Click on Network and Internet Connections.
  • Select Network Connections > right click on the hot spot connection > select Properties.
  • De-select the box next to File and Printer Sharing.
  • Click OK > restart your notebook.

b.   Disable Wi-Fi ad hoc networking:

  • Right mouse click the wireless network icon at the bottom right of your screen.  Select View Available Wireless Networks.
  • Select the network to change > click Change advanced settings.
  • Click on Wireless NetworksAdvanced.
  • Select Access point (infrastructure) networks only > click CloseOK.
  • Repeat for all wireless network connections.

4. When visiting sites that require a secure login (banking, financial, shopping), ensure their URL states “https”, not “http”. The “s” means “secure” and shows the site utilizes encryption and secure identification of its server.

5. Keep your security software up to date, regularly run scans, and always back up your data.

6. Delete cookies, as they may provide easy links to your secure sites, especially if you enable automatic log-in with a set user name and password:

  • Open Internet Explorer.Select ToolsInternet Options.
  • From the General tab > click Delete.
  • Select Delete all…Delete Browsing History > click Yes.

7. Make your folders private and consider protecting them with passwords:

  • Open Windows Explorer > go to your user profile folder (see Documents and Settings).
  • Right mouse click the folder > click Sharing and Security (or Properties).
  • From the Sharing tab > tick Make this folder private > click Apply. ·
  • For added security, create a password when asked.

8. Forget free Wi-Fi and buy a wireless access card that has its own built-in security.

9. Consider a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that provides a secure and encrypted connection between your business’s servers and your notebook, specifically encrypting everything that goes through.Of course, when it comes to staying secure, there are many quick and easy ways.

Source : HP newsletter

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