Monday, June 1, 2009

Safety Tips on Free Internet Access

Anyone with free Internet access through hotspots using a laptop with a wireless device or mobile phones to connect to the Internet needs to be cautioned. This is terrific but these are shared networks, meaning other people are also connected to the Internet using the same connection. In situations like this, you have to presume hackers may be stealing your personal information and listening to everything you do. Hackers can set up a second network as if it is the legitimate connection you think you are connecting to. Once your information is captured by the hacker you are then routed to the correct network – this is called man-in-the-middle attack (MITM) as there is a third computer involve in the communication. Man-in-the-middle attacks can be active or passive. Active attacks involves the contents being changed before it is sent to its intended recipient and passive attacks involve the contents being captured and then sent to the intended recipient without being detected. When you are using a secured connection your secured router will act as adequate physical security.

Below are some precautions to help protect your information when it is necessary to use a public Internet connection:
• Keep operating system, firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware programs up to date
• Encrypt your communications. If you are interested in more information on this check out this article on Lifehacker…may be a bit technical but it is an option (
• Use only sites that use https and also when checking your mail check to see if there is https connection (see The Difference between http and https
• Any activity involving sensitive information, do on a network you control – at home or one you are paying for Internet access
• If possible, plug into a high speed connection using a cable
• Check who is physically in view of your laptop screen. Information compromise can and does occur physically, the old fashion way

Don’t think the above only pertains to outside connections, the same can also be said for Internet connections such as in hotel rooms, cafes and air planes etc. because these connections (via routers, cables and hubs etc.) are owned and controlled by the entity’s management. Also, the configuration of the network may be such that you and the other users in the area may be able to see each others activities. Remember you are not controlling the connection or paying an ISP (Internet Service Provider) for the connection so anything is possible.

Pray this helps you with accessing the Internet using a public access connection as you are out and about in this wonderfully warm weather.

As always, email me with your topics and let’s have a good time learning together!

In His Service,

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