Be Safe When Using a WiFi Hotpost

People with notebook PCs on the go from time to time connect to the internet using a WiFi hotspot. For those not in-the-know, this is basically the slang term for a spot that has a wireless network which you can tap into and get online. I myself use them from time to time. Some restaurants have them. Sometimes I need to get some work done while awaiting an appointment and I'll stop in at a bookstore and use their hotspot.

However, there is security risk to these hotspots because, in many cases, the network is not secure, so if anything on your notebook is shared, that means others can see it to. In addition, a hacker with a packet sniffer could actually sniff your data traveling across the network and log it for the later entertainment. So, how can you secure yourself on these public wireless networks?

- If you're not actually using the network, disable your network card. Most notebooks have a button where you can turn off the wireless capability.

- Use a firewall such as ZoneAlarm.

- If you are going to enter any sensitive information over this network, make sure the site is secure (look for the little lock in the bottom corner of your browser).

- Make sure your system is up to date (to plug security holes)

These are just the basics, but important for you street-side net surfers.