Kim Komando: Protect devices, accounts against public Wi-Fi hackers
BY KIM KOMANDO
Sunday, December 16, 2012
12/16/12 at 3:47 AM
Wi-Fi hotspots are a blessing for travelers and anyone who just wants to do a little web surfing while having lunch or coffee in a shop. Connecting is convenient, and it helps users avoid going over their cellular data limits and getting socked with overage fees.
If you're not careful about using free public Wi-Fi, however, strangers can snoop on your email and social network conversations. Worse, if you're too casual about mobile banking or shopping, you could end up with a hacked bank account or credit card account.
Hackers with routers and readily available software set up rogue hot spots for spying and serving you fake websites. You and your tablet will think you're connecting to the coffee shop's Wi-Fi, but you've fallen into a trap.
Despite the risks, it's easy to protect yourself and thwart the bad guys. Follow these tips to surf more safely.
Turn off sharing: If you use a laptop, you might have it set to share files and folders with other computers at work or home. You don't want these settings on when you're using a public network.
Windows Vista, 7 and 8 make it simple to automate your sharing settings. When connecting to a public hotspot for the first time, Windows asks for a location type. Make sure you set it to "public."
On a Mac, go to System Preferences>>Sharing and make sure all the sharing boxes are unchecked.
Don't automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks: It's handy when your smartphone, tablet and laptop automatically connect to your home and work networks, but that can lead to trouble when you're out and about.
Tweak your gadgets' settings so you have to manually join networks in public. Then verify with a store employee that you are connecting to the correct network.
Be smart about mobile banking and shopping: It's best to wait until you're at home to do any online banking or shopping. If you must make an emergency balance transfer or an immediate purchase to save a significant amount of money, it's safer to use a cellular connection instead of Wi-Fi.
Original Print Headline: Hackers target Wi-Fi hotspots
Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Listen to her show from 1-4 p.m. each Sunday on KRMG am740 or fm102.3. To receive her newsletters, go to tulsaworld.com/komandonewsletters.