Tips for protecting data from Wi-Fi hackers

• Stay current. Make sure your laptop is up to date. Don’t use old versions of your operating system and Web browsers. Keep your firewall, antivirus and antispyware software current, too.

• Use a VPN. Virtual private networks can be set up for personal, as well as corporate, use. Do a Web search for “personal VPN” or try a software retailer.

• Bank at home. Avoid conducting financial transactions at a hot spot.

• Name your home network. For your home network, don’t use the generic name, called the SSID, that came with the wireless router. Hackers will often create Wi-Fi networks with names like “default” or “linksys” (named after a router manufacturer) because most laptops are configured to automatically connect to networks that they’ve used in the past.

• Give Wi-Fi a rest. Turn off your laptop’s Wi-Fi capabilities when you don’t need to connect to the Internet. Most laptops search for Wi-Fi signals automatically and the connection stays open even if you don’t boot up your Web or e-mail application. If your laptop automatically connects to a Wi-Fi network run by a hacker, he might be able to search your computer for sensitive data, even information that would allow access to your company’s network.

• Wire up. Avoid Wi-Fi at public places in favor of high-speed connections that plug into your laptop. If you do use Wi-Fi, make sure it’s an access point that you’re confident in.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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