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Thread: Wi Fi Question
11-10-09, 12:33 AM #1RookieVerified LEO
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Wi Fi Question
I was just on a plane that offered free wi fi and it got me thinking. I go to the mall, or on the plane, or at the library and they offer free w ifi.
1) how safe is it to use this wi fi?
2) what info are they able to get off of my computer when I use their wi fi
3) are they able to track what sites i visit?
4) can they get my passwords when I use their wi fi?
5) what info can they see about my computer when I use their wi fi?
11-10-09, 01:19 AM #2
Probably the MOST important thing is to make sure you connect to a legitimate Wi-Fi connection: Any hacker sitting 100 feet from you can set up his own Wi-Fi channel from his laptop if he also has a portable router. Then unless you use an encrypted VPN tunnel or the web site is encrypted (https), he will be able to capture everything you type in as he passes it back out to the Internet.
Public Wi-Fi is pretty hazardous unless you take precautions: Disable all your file shares, have security software (such as Norton Internet Security) and configure it so that it automatically shuts down various ways hackers can get into the network and into your disk (such as the file shares), and be sure to enable the Norton or Windows firewall.
Also disable your guest account on your laptop, and make sure all of your userid's (especially Administrator), have strong passwords with words, numbers and punctuation that aren't in the dictionary (if you must use recognizable words, mis-spell them in unusual ways that you can remember - but substituting a 5 for an S or 3 for an E is not an unusual way - hackers know about all those).
Also, remember that the longer the computer is connected, the longer a hacker has to run a password or port scanner - so DISABLE THE RADIO of your Wi-Fi card or shut down the Wi-Fi connection in some other way whenever you are not going to be actually working on the Internet for a while - for example, when you're working on a local document or spreadsheet, playing Solitaire, or something like that which doesn't require the Internet. They will get very frustrated if your Wi-Fi connection shuts down occasionally.
If the Wi-Fi connection allows it, running WPA2 with encryption and a pre-shared key (PSK) is highly desirable, but that means that the owner of the Wi-Fi connection is going to have to set you up a key, which is like a second password for encryption.
If you run VPN back to your home PC or office PC, make sure your home or office PC aren't directly exposed to the Internet - have a NAT hardware-based router/firewall, which is pretty cheap these days and is usually included in a home broadband Internet package. VPN is very secure in itself, because it's encrypted, but the router's VPN tunnel must be set up correctly to hide the rest of your PC from the Internet.
Running VPN back to your home PC and logging into your home PC's desktop with Windows' "Remote Desktop" feature isn't a bad way to do it, because then you can leave all of your important info and programs on your home PC - Your laptop then doesn't have to have any important information, so if it's stolen, there will be no private data to steal. just remember it's best to do it via an encrypted VPN tunnel, not by making the whole computer visible to the Internet.
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11-10-09, 03:29 AM #4RookieVerified LEO
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So you answered some of my questions. Can they get my computer name? how do i get a vps tunnel?
11-10-09, 09:58 PM #5RookieVerified LEO
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Great tips. Lets all be careful out there and practice safe surfing.
01-06-10, 11:10 AM #6
One thing not mentioned is there is a known "free public wifi" virus out there. It shows as a computer to computer network, and when you click on it usually you don't get Internet. It then takes over on your computer and starts advertising "free public wifi" using your own computer waiting for someone to try and connect to you so it can spread.
I had it on my computer once and the thing had to be wiped just to get rid of it.
There are a lot of articles on this just google "free public wifi virus".
all of these viral networks are ad-hoc networks also known sometimes as computer to computer or peer to peer
be careful out there and keep reminding yourself somethings are too good to be true.
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