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7 tips for working securely from wireless hotspots

Posted by putera2info on October 30, 2009

Sources : Microsoft

Wireless hotspots are changing the way people work. These wireless local area networks (LANs) provide high speed Internet connection in public locations—as well as at home—and need nothing more than a mobile PC such as a laptop or notebook computer equipped with a wireless card.
In fact, hotspots are an everyday connection method for travelers and remote workers to browse the Internet, check their e-mail, and even work on their corporate networks while away from the office.
Hotspots range from paid services, such as T-Mobile or Verizon Wireless, to public, free connections. Hot spots are everywhere, including:
• Coffee shops
• Restaurants
• Libraries
• Bookstores
• Airports
• Hotel lobbies
But they all have one thing in common—they are all open networks that are vulnerable to security breaches. And that means it’s up to you to protect the data on your PC. In this article, we cover a few tips to make working in public locations more secure.

Try to choose more secure connections

It’s not always possible to choose your connection type—but when you can, opt for wireless networks that require a network security key or have some other form of security, such as a certificate. The information sent over these networks is encrypted, which can help protect your computer from unauthorized access. The security features of different networks appear along with the network name as your PC discovers them.

Make sure your firewall is activated
A firewall helps protect your mobile PC by preventing unauthorized users from gaining access to your computer through the Internet or a network. It acts as a barrier that checks all incoming information, and then either blocks the information or allows it to come through. All Microsoft Windows operating systems come with a firewall, and you can make sure it’s turned on.

To activate the Windows Vista Firewall

1. Click Start and then click Control Panel.
2. In Control Panel, click Network and Internet.
3. Under Windows Firewall, click Turn Windows Firewall on or off.
4. Ensure that On is selected.

To activate the Windows XP Firewall

1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
2. In Control Panel, click Network Connections.
3. In the Network Connections window, under Network Tasks, click Change Windows Firewall Settings.
4. In the Windows Firewall dialog box, on the General tab, ensure that On is selected.

Monitor your access points


Chances are that there are multiple wireless networks anywhere you’re trying to connect. These connections are all access points, because they link into the wired system that gives you Internet access. So how do you make sure you’re connecting to the right one? Simple—by configuring your PC to let you approve access points before you connect.

Configure Windows Vista Access Points

Windows Vista takes the guesswork out of connecting to hotspots because you are automatically prompted to approve new connections. In addition, after you approve a connection, you assign it a profile for future use.

Configure Windows XP Access Points

1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then click Network Connections.
2. Right-click Wireless Network Connection, and then click Properties.
3. On the Wireless Networks tab, make sure that the Use Windows to configure my wireless network settings check box is selected.
4. Under Preferred networks, make sure that the name of the network that you want to connect to is highlighted, and then click Advanced.
5. Click Access point (infrastructure) network only, and then click Close.

Disable file and printer sharing


File and printer sharing is a feature that enables other computers on a network to access resources on your computer. When you are using your mobile PC in a hotspot, it’s best to disable file and printer sharing—when it’s enabled, it leaves your computer vulnerable to hackers. Remember, though, to turn this feature back on when you return to the office.

Disable file and printer sharing in Windows Vista

1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
2. Click Network and Internet, and then click Network and Sharing Center.
3. Under Sharing and Discovery, click the arrow next to File sharing, click Turn off file sharing, and then click Apply.
4. Click the arrow next to Printer sharing, click Turn off printer sharing, and then click Apply.

Disable file and printer sharing in Windows XP

1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
2. Click Security Center, and then click Windows Firewall.
3. Click the Exceptions tab, and then under Programs and Services, clear the File and Printer Sharing check box.

Make your folders private


When the folders on your mobile PC are private, it’s more difficult for hackers to access your files.

To make a folder private in Windows Vista

Windows Vista not only makes folders private by default, but it also requires passwords for shared folders. As a result, you’re already covered! But if you want to double-check, simply right-click on the folder in question, and select Properties. On the Security tab, you can review the set permissions.

To make a folder private in Windows XP

1. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
2. Click the drive where Windows is installed, and then click Documents and Settings.
3. Open your user folder, right-click the folder that you want to make private, and then click Properties.
4. On the Sharing tab, click Do no share this folder, and then click OK.
Repeat the steps above for each folder that you want to make private.

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