Wi-Fi Hotspot Security: How to Use Public Networks Safely

By Michael Horowitz | Posted October 23, 2009

Whether you’re road warrior traveling the country or just working at a local café for a change of pace, accessing a public Wi-Fi hotspot (think Starbucks or airports) leaves you open to a host of security problems — unless you take the proper precautions.

In this article, Michael Horowitz explains how protect your PC and your data when sharing public networks with total strangers.

Wi-Fi security is a very different thing at home and away. Wi-Fi networks that you setup and control — be it at home or in a small business — start with an assumed safe group of users. The main security objectives are two-fold: encrypting data traveling over the air and keeping outsiders out.

On a public wireless network you also need to be concerned with encrypting data coming into and out of your computer, but the solutions are very different. On top of this, public networks add new threats because you are now sharing a network with total strangers as opposed to a trusted group.

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