Sunday, August 27, 2006

Public Web Surfing Advisory

Since we're on the subject of personal digital security, here’s another tip to consider. The New York Times ran a piece on the wide open Web surfing that’s available at your local wireless hotspot. That is, all your communications and actions on the net wide are potentially open to whoever has the inclination and the equipment.

“Although obsessing about computer security is a bit like worrying about a toddler — potential hazards lurk everywhere and you can drive yourself crazy trying to avoid them — the fact is, business travelers take certain risks with the things they do on most trips.”
(Thought that was a great quote.)
“’Where I’d draw the line is putting in your bank account information or credit card number,’ said Robert Vamosi, a senior editor with CNET, adding that ‘checking e-mail messages probably is not that risky,' and you can always change your e-mail password later.

"Wireless networks at airports, hotels or cafes are not as secure as most people think. 'Someone may have software on their computer that allows them to look at all the wireless transactions going on around them, and capture packets floating between the laptop and wireless access point,' he said.

"Last fall, InfoWorld magazine published an article about a security researcher who managed to collect more than 100 passwords, per stay, at hotels with lax security (about half the hotels she tested).

"…Access to your corporate network through a V.P.N., or virtual private network, (is) safer than using public hot spots. There are services you can subscribe to for about $10 a month that do the same thing."

"Web Surfing in Public Places Is a Way to Court Trouble"
(This may require free registration to read)

Published August 22, 2006
But in a show of faith in the medium, I am boldly posting this from a public wi-fi spot. Go, Tech!

A good little wireless hotspot
…although I chanced across a place yesterday that didn’t turn up in their listings, your traditional, Mom ‘n’ Pop Internet café along Fort Salonga Road. On balance, though, very useful.
(Editor's note: oh, how that headline yearned to be, “Web Surfing Naked in Public” or the like, but that would be a cheap shot, wouldn’t it? Just wanted to let you know what we didn’t do, so you could congratulate us on our great dignity and reserve.)

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