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Thursday
Apr152004

New Computer Security Risk

Do you take a laptop computer with you when you travel? Do you use local wireless networks, also known as wi-fi hotspots, to access the Internet when you travel?

You can find wi-fi hotspots at hotels, airline member lounges and other places. Even Starbucks and other coffee shops now advertise their wi-fi hotspots.

The problem is some of these hot spots may allow other to access the contents of your computer. Little specialized knowledge is necessary to hack into your computer. If you use an unsecure wireless network, other users on the network may be able to access your files or store their files on your computer.

Your identity could be stolen or confidential information could be disclosed to your rivals. In either event, the financial cost could be considerable. Hackers could also save pedophile images on your computer, spread a virus to your computer or place programs on your computer that allow the hackers access to your computer at a later time through the Internet. Hackers could even go through your computer to attack a bank or another entity. Some of these possibilities might be inconvenient or embarrassing, others could possibly subject you and your company to liability.

Wi-fi hotspots are convenient for business travelers. The good news is you can take precautions that will allow you to utilize these wireless networks without having your computer hijacked. First, disable file-sharing on your laptop and second, install a firewall.
Some wi-fi networks have firewalls that prevent hackers from viewing other machines connected to the hotspot. Unfortunately, not all networks have this. To be safe, your best approach is to protect your computer.

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