Be on guard when working wirelessly - East Valley Tribune: Business

Be on guard when working wirelessly

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Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2007 11:37 pm | Updated: 7:07 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Wi-Fi network access at airports, coffee shops and other locations has made accessing the Web a snap for laptop computer users everywhere.

But not all Wi-Fi is equal. Hackers looking to steal personal information and files lurk as much in the wireless realm as they do through dial-up and broadband landlines.

Hackers can establish fake Wi-Fi connections in a number of venues. When searching for connections, a consumer may encounter a network connection available simply named “Free Wi-Fi.” This network may not be the real thing, but instead may be an ad-hoc network used by hackers hunting for credit card information, Social Security numbers and account passwords.

To avoid connecting to a network used by hackers, the Better Business Bureau suggests the following steps to keep your laptop safe:

• Always stay on guard for an unfamiliar network. Hackers can change their network’s name to one used by a legitimate Internet connection.

• Set up your laptop so that it does not automatically connect to nonpreferred networks. Otherwise, your computer could automatically connect to the hacker’s network without your knowledge.

• Turn off file sharing when you’re traveling to prevent hackers from stealing entire documents, files and e-mails from your computer.

• Find out if your employer has a Virtual Private Network (VPN), or create a VPN for your business. A VPN keeps users’ communications as secure as if they were sitting at a desk in the building.

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