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How to Protect Yourself When Using Free Public WiFi Hot Spots

We depend on the Internet for almost everything these days and when we’re traveling, the Internet becomes our primary lifeline to family, friends and work. Nowadays, using and having a WiFi connection when you’re on the road is almost essential.


The “S” on an HTTPS URL indicates you’re using a secure browser.

That’s why now (more than ever), it’s important to understand the risks of using public WiFi and how to protect yourself when you’re surfing the Internet from the road.

Connecting via WiFi
It’s easier than ever to check your e-mail or browse the Internet from almost anywhere – airports, airplanes, hotel rooms, resorts, theme parks and more offer free WiFi. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just hooking up to an Internet connection.

When you log onto a public or open WiFi connection that is not secured, you’re opening your computer and privacy to a public network – and anyone with the right software can see the information you’re receiving and sending. The hacker could also infiltrate your computer and place a virus, malware or other program that would turn your computer into a drone, or botnet, allowing it to be controlled by hackers.

Using Free Public WiFi Hot Spots
Access your settings in your browser. Look for the Connections tab to locate your connection settings:

Before you Get on the Road

1. Enable SSL connections:

The best way to protect yourself when on public Wi-Fi is to use secure connections. Look for a secured connection icon in the URL bar for your browser.


Secured browsing limits the possibility of someone snooping on your hard drive. 

Like those your bank might display, the lock icon will indicate you’re visiting a website with a Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, connection. The SSL connection encrypts the information that is exchanged.

SSL connections are used for secured sites like banking and e-commerce but you can enable an SSL connection on many of your favorite sites:

Gmail: To enable an SSL connection from your Gmail account, click the gear icon at the top right of the browser page, click Mail Settings, select “Always Use HTTPS,” and save.

Twitter: To enable an SSL connection, go to the settings, scroll to the bottom of the Account tab, check the box for “Always Use HTTPS,” and save.

Facebook: To enable an SSL connection, go to Account Settings and click the Security tab. Now edit your Secure Browsing, check the browsing on a secure connection box. You will have to disable the SSL connection for apps like FarmVille.

2. Disable sharing: Turn off Sharing. Sharing a connect to a printer or other devices is useful at home, but leaving Sharing on in public areas opens yourself to hackers. Here’s how to turn it off:

Mac: Open your System Preferences and click on the Sharing icon. Uncheck all of the boxes to disable and turn off Sharing. To turn them back on, simply check the box for the what you use.

PC: Windows prompts your connection when you connect to a new WiFi network - is it a Home, Work or Public network? If you select Public, Windows disables sharing. Using Windows XP and 7, click the Start button and open the Control Panel.

Depending on your version of Windows, enabling and disabling Sharing varies.

Windows XP: Click on Network Connections and right-click Local Area Connection. Click Properties, uncheck the box that offers file and printer sharing. Click “OK.” Re-check the box to enable file and printer sharing again.

Windows 7: Click Network and Sharing Center, select Change Advanced Sharing Settings. Click on the arrow of the network you’d like to disable sharing on. Select “Turn Off File” and Printer Sharing. Save.

3. Turn off WiFi: If hackers can’t access your computer via a public or open network, they can’t take or affect your files. Turn off your WiFi before hitting the road.

Mac: Click the Airport wireless icon in the top right of the Apple status bar. Select “Turn Airport Off.”

PC: Right-click the wireless icon on the task bar and turn it off.

 

At Your Destination

1. Turn on WiFi: Follow the same steps to turn on your WiFi and select a network.

2. Log in using VPN: Fortune 500 companies use Virtual Private Network because they’re much safer than an open network. Enabling VPN encrypts your browsing and the VPN works to shield your computer too. Don’t work for a company that will provide a VPN? Buy a VPN account from a third party; acccess costs range from $8 to $10 a month. The third-party service  offers the same protection and encrypts all your computer activity.

Leaving?

Turn off WiFi: Prevent the computer from automatically connecting to an unsecured network. Should you go to another public spot, this will.

Professional hackers are on the road every day looking for an easy target. Unless you’re learning how to programming C+++ or building secured web pages, chances are you’re not going to know what it takes to protect yourself. Follow these easy steps to protect both your data and computer.

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posted by Vince Matthews in News Blog,Social Media and have No Comments

Protecting Your Online and Personal Security While Traveling

Summer is drawing to an end. Still, August is considered prime vacation time, especially because of Labor Day. Of course, people travel year ‘round, for reasons besides vacations and when you’re on the road, you need to be careful about your online security.


Hooking up to a free open Wi-Fi connection in an airport can be the worst thing you could ever do, exposing yourself to packet sniffers (data stealers) and hackers. 

We love electronic devices and for the most part, we generally consider it unthinkable not to take a tablet, laptop or smartphone along with us during our travels. However, despite their convenience, these mobile devices also contain personal information – including potentially sensitive data about your online interests and more.

Here are some simple common-sense tips that can help protect your security, and your privacy, while traveling:

Don’t Invite Criminals to Your Home
Why would you call up convicted burglars on the phone and announce your vacation plans? You wouldn’t, of course. And yet, each year fun-loving families do the exact same thing on social media sites such as Facebook. To make matters worse, some of these families will even post their vacation pictures while they’re still on their trip – proving to potential robbers that they haven’t even started packing to come home. Post the vacation pix after you get home and have confirmed you still own your widescreen and furniture.

Watch Your Posts
Before you post your vacation pix, remember that (unless you specify a privacy setting for them) anyone will be able to see your fun-loving side…including college admissions reps, job recruiters or potential in-laws.


The last time Uncle Ned “saddled up.” A careless moment of fun can linger online forever

Candidly Quick Cameras
Many of today’s cameras come with Wi-Fi, HD and more. That makes cameras a juicy target for thieves. When traveling, limit group photos that require you to hand off your camera to a stranger; have someone that works in a restaurant or a street vendor take your picture instead. And always use passwords or passkeys to lock your devices. That way your images or device can’t be accessed if your technology gets stolen.

Protection Plans
In the event that you do need to take sensitive documents with you, prevent info theft. Use apps that have passwords or some other form of encryption system to safeguard especially sensitive files. That way, even if you lose an electronic device to accident or theft, no unauthorized personnel will be able to get at those protected files.

The Extra “S” is For “Security”
The extra “S” in “HTTPS” stands for “Security.” It signifies the combination of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) with the SSL/TLS protocol, which join forces to create a secure way to shuttle information around. If you plan to transfer funds, or  handle another financial transaction (or distribute sensitive company info while on the road), check for the extra “S” in the URL line. It’s also usually accompanied by a small lock icon; this confirms your data is being encrypted.


Stay secure while on the road. All computer passwords should include upper- and lower-case letters and at least three numbers.

Prevent “Log” Jams
For travelers on the move, popping into a Starbucks for Wi-Fi or other Internet cafe to check e-mail is an essential task. Unfortunately, many of these hurried travelers are in such a rush, they forget to log out once they’ve finished their online session. Always log out of any sessions you’ve started with any provider like Yahoo or Google. And just for safety sake, clear the browser cache.

Just closing the browser window does not accomplish the same objective of clearing out your account information. Many accounts like Yahoo, AOL, Facebook and others, keep you logged in (which is handy, when you’re at home), until you log yourself out (not so handy when you’re on the road). Always end your sessions and clean up your tracks, and make sure the next person using the computer doesn’t  have access to any of your info.

Keep Your Guard Up
Sure, you’re on vacation (let’s assume) and you want to just kick back and forget your life back home. While the need to kick back is important and universal, you shouldn’t ever get completely relaxed where your finances are concerned. Smart travelers check up on their finances during vacation, to make sure daily credit and financial balances make sense. This is extra smart because time is definitely of the essence when it comes to catching credit card frauds.

Turn the Tables
Use anti-theft programs and apps designed to help you track stolen devices; you can even remotely log into missing equipment (even though the devices aren’t in your possession). The technology is also being used to protect homes. One new Google+ app even provides a way for you to actually physically monitor your house in real time.

Lock It Up
When traveling, put your electronics (as much as will fit) into the hotel safe, and you’ll sleep like a rock. If the place you’re staying at doesn’t have individual safes, it’s almost a sure bet that the hotel has a main safe where you can store your valuable gadgets (and sensitive info).

Do You Really Need It?
Do you really need to take a smartphone and an mp3 player? There is a privacy issue here beyond just having more freight to lug around; if you’re leaving or entering the country, your laptop or smartphone could get searched and even copied by Border Agents.

New technology makes enforcing your traveling online security even more difficult these days. Learning how to use the Internet and Wi-Fi protocols can help you protect yourself while traveling. At the end of the day, prevention is worth a pound of cure. Follow these tips for safer and smarter travels.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog,Web Development and have No Comments