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Wireless Internet Security Tips

If you are using a wireless connection there are several things that can be done to reduce the risk of having sensitive data stolen.

Turn Off File Sharing

File sharing, especially over a wireless network, and *especially* over an unsecured wireless network (public hotspots like coffee shops, airports, ...) puts your computer at risk. Disable file sharing.

Beware the Evil Twin

An evil twin is a hotspot that looks like a legitimate one but in reality is a fake. If you log into the evil twin the hackers will get your login and password and any other information you send over the connection (such as bank login). Many times these phony hotspots advertise themselves as free so the victim is easily duped into using it rather than a paid service.

How is it done? A person nearby will have a laptop with software on it that emulates a public hotspot but also captures information and keystrokes.

Once logged in, everything is captured by the bad guy.
How can an evil twin be detected? It cannot. Most likely, an evil twin will not be an issue for a home. Only common sense can prevent a mishap.

Some wireless computers are set up to find *and automatically logon* to the nearest wifi site. Not good! Change the settings to you have to pick choose a hotspot. Also avoid, if possible, using sensitive data in a public area.

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Use a Secure Network

Many hotspots such as airports, coffee shops, libraries, and schools have convenient wireless connections - too convenient because many do not require a login; i.e. secure connection. Anyone nearby with sniffing software (which is pretty easy to get) can monitor your data.

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Turn off Autoconnect

Most wireless devices including laptops, tablets and smartphones have network software that automatically connects to access points they remember. This convenient feature is what gets you online without effort when you turn on your computer at home, the office, coffee shops or airports you frequent. Simply put, when your computer turns on, the wireless radio sends out probe requests. These requests say “Is such-and-such wireless network around?” The hacker's setup replies to these requests to say “Sure, I’m such-and-such wireless access point – let’s get you online!"... and now you are connected to the hacker rather than the network you think you connected to.

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

One great way to avoid nearby hackers from grabbing your data is to use a virtual private network (VPN).

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