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Laptop WiFi Security for Beginners

Laptop wifi security is a lot less complex than it sounds. The reason that so many people are taken advantage of by hackers every year is that they don’t adopt basic safe practices. Consider the inconsistency in this. In many cases, users will bike to a coffee shop, slap an $80 lock on a $100 bike and then leave their $1,000 laptop laying wide open on the table while they use the restroom or order a beverage. They’d never announce their credit card or social security number to a crowd of strangers, but they’ll transmit it over a network that anyone with a freeware packet sniffer can mine for such data.

There are two main areas to concern yourself with where laptop security is concerned: physical and digital. Users, to put it plainly, are usually positively awful when it comes to physical laptop security. Laptop cable locks, which prevent the laptop from being opened or absconded with, depending upon the design, are very rarely seen. Fingerprint scanners are even rarer. There is one major enemy of laptop security in the physical sense of the term that seems to elude most users: your backpack.

As is mentioned in an article at ScamBusters.org, many users tend to walk around with a bag that’s so obviously made for a computer that it may as well say “Computer” on the side. The backpacks carried around by students are particularly obvious examples. You may want to consider getting a nondescript bag instead of an expensive computer bag. You can get an internal sleeve that you can protect the computer in and load the computer and your other items into a backpack that’s not so obvious. For instance, military surplus bags are tough, long-lasting and give away nothing about their contents. If you’re walking in front of a thief with a computer backpack on, you may as well have a thousand dollars in it, and they know that.

Whenever you’re in a public place, there may be a hacker somewhere near you. At least, that’s how the FBI states it, and they tend to have good information about such things. A hacker doesn’t have to be a master programmer with incredible skills. They work like any other predator in that they’re not looking to break into a system: They’re looking for a system that’s wide open to them. The less effort, the better.

You’ll want a firewall, at the very least, and anti-virus software on your computer. You’ll also want to turn off any network services you don’t use. These are oftentimes used as exploits by hackers. When you’re not actively using a public wireless network, turn off your wireless card. The hacker, if they’re after you, will wait until you’re not looking at your computer to launch a major attack, in most cases. This is because it prevents you from noticing a slowdown in performance and, of course, because you have no idea what’s going on while they’re copying your files, reading your email or whatever else.

Where physical security is concerned, be sure that you always know where your computer is. If you’re in public, set your screen saver to turn on after a minute of the computer remaining idle and put a password on the screen saver. Remember that passwords should be nonsensical combinations of numbers and letters. Sure, you can use your kid’s birthday or your name, but whoever’s hacking your machine may have already gotten both out of your email and files while you weren’t paying attention to your live, networked and very vulnerable laptop computer.

References:
http://www.scambusters.org/laptop.html http://www2.fbi.gov/page2/may08/wifi_050608.html

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