25 November, 2008

Remember, extra security is required for wireless hotspots

Forbes reports on recent work that has identified many airport hotspots not being secure. This is a good reminder to all of us who use hotspots that we need extra security. First, if you can get on the hotspot, so can anyone else. With a little work and help from programs such as Cane and Abel, anyone can intercept everything you send and receive. Other people may just set up their laptop to look like a hotspot, so when you connect, you are actually connecting to their laptop. Again programs are readily available to make this work with relative ease.

Your job, if you're going to use hotspots, is to only communicate with VPN on. VPN will encrypt data as it is sent and received between your laptop and the VPN server. If your company does not provide you with VPN or you need it for private use, try services such as PublicVPN or HotSpotVPN. For a small fee, these services will protect you .

The same rule also applies to any public network that you physically connect to such as from a hotel room. After connecting to the network, fire up the VPN before doing anything else. It is also a good idea to make sure you are not sharing any files or folders. If you are, when you join the network, but before you access the VPN, anyone on the network can get to those shares.

How does this differ from private physical connections such as in your place of byusiness? You are trusting that the only people on your business network are safe, and not snooping the network. If your business network is also available via wireless, it should be protected with WPA using a strong security key.

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