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Computer Security No 6: Dangers with Free Wi-Fi

Private Computer Security

I recently spoke to some colleagues about using free Wi-Fi offered by hotels and so many other places. It is very tempting, especially for people who travel abroad and want to avoid getting stung by huge prices for mobile data roaming.

So the question is to connect or NOT to connect?

Personally, I do not connect to public Wi-Fi. If I travel abroad, I prefer to buy a low cost local sim card and connect directly to the network through the local provider.

However, if you do want to make use of public or hotel Wi-Fi here are a few suggestions to will help to reduce your risk:

1.  Make sure your operating system is up to date and has the latest service pack and patches installed.

a. If it is Windows this will normally happen automatically through windows update, but note that if you are still running Windows XP that it is now past end of extended support and hence longer being updated by Microsoft (source: Windows- Microsoft . Windows Vista will reach end of extended support next year.

Personal Computer Security Free wi-fi

b. If it is Apple, make sure you are running the latest operating system (currently OSX 10.11 - El Capitan) including the latest updates. You can check within the Appstore application for any available updates.

2.  Have up to date Anti-virus software
3.  Treat ANY http access as potentially insecure.

The problem with http is that it is susceptible to "man-in-the-middle" attack. It is relatively safe to browse on public Wi-Fi networks but consider that it is potentially possible for an attacker to substitute information including downloads on otherwise legitimate websites.

Avoid downloading any program while connecting to the internet via public Wi-Fi unless it is being served via https. The padlock icon on the left of the URL within your browser indicates that the website is verified to be authentic and using - MICROSOFT

More info at:


Moderated by Monica Schlesinger: www.advisoryboardsgroup.com.au



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