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How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

Starbucks is offering free Wi-Fi to all customers, at every location, starting today. Whether you’re clicking connect on Starbucks’ Wi-Fi or some other unsecured, public Wi-Fi network, here’s how to stay safe and secure while surfing a public hotspot.

Just because most wireless routers have a firewall to protect you from the internet doesn’t mean you’re protected from others connected to the same network. Lots of wireless hotspots these days are completely unencrypted, usually so they’re easier to connect to (baristas don’t need to be giving out the internet password to everyone that walks in). However, this leaves you unprotected against malicious users in the same coffee shop, so there are a few settings you should always make sure to tweak when you’re connected to a public network. We’re going to show you which settings are the most important ones, as well as how to automatically change your settings to the appropriate level of security every time you connect to a public network.

The Settings

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

1. Turn Off Sharing

When you’re at home, you may share files, printers, or even allow remote login from other computers on your network. When you’re on a public network, you’ll want to turn these things off, as anyone can access them—they don’t even need to be a hacker, and depending on your setup, some of that stuff probably isn’t even password protected. Here’s how to turn off sharing:

In Windows: Open your Control Panel, then browse to Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center, then click Choose Homegroup and Sharing Options -> Change Advanced Sharing Settings. Once here, you should definitely turn off file and printer sharing, and you may as well turn off network discovery and Public folder sharing. Some of this is done automatically by Windows if you specify the network as public (more on this later).

In Mac OS X: Go to System Preferences -> Sharing and make sure all the boxes are unchecked.

You’ll also want to turn off network discovery, which will be in the same place. This will prevent others from even seeing your machine on the network, meaning you’re less likely to be targeted. On Windows (as I mentioned), it’s just another check box under advanced sharing settings. On OS X, it will be called “stealth mode” and be under your firewall’s advanced settings (see below).

2. Enable Your Firewall

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks


Most OSes come with at least a basic firewall nowadays, and it’s a simple step to keeping unwanted local users from poking at your computer. You may already be using a firewall, but just in case, go into your security settings (in Windows under Control Panel -> System and Security -> Windows Firewall; and on Mac under System Preferences -> Security -> Firewall) and make sure your firewall is turned on. You can also edit which applications are allowed access by clicking on “allow a program or feature” in Windows and “advanced” in OS X. Your firewall
is not an end-all, be-all protector, but it’s always a good idea to make sure it’s turned on.

3. Use SSL Whenever Possible

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
Regular web site connections over HTTP exchange lots of plain text over the wireless network you’re connected to, and someone with the right skills and bad intent can sniff out that traffic. It’s not that big of a deal when the text is some search terms you entered at Lifehacker, but it is a big deal when it’s the password to your email account. Using HTTPS (for visiting web sites) or enabling SSL (when using applications that access the internet, such as a mail client) encrypts the data passed back and forth between your computer and that web server and keep it away from prying eyes.

Some sites will do it automatically, but keep an eye on the address bar and make sure the “s” in “https” is always there when you’re exchanging sensitive information. If it disappears, you should log out immediately. Note that if the sensitive browsing can wait, you might as well just do it at home—no reason in risking more than you have to. Other sites will default to HTTP connections, but support HTTPS if you manually type it in. Gmail, for example, will allow you to log in using HTTPS, and you can specify in your Gmail Settings whether you want it to use HTTPS automatically in the future. (Go to Settings, find the Browser connection setting, and set to Always use https.)

If you access your email from a desktop client such as Outlook or Mail.app, You’ll want to make sure that your accounts are SSL encrypted in their settings. If not, people could not only theoretically read your emails, but also get your usernames, passwords, or anything else they wanted. You’ll need to make sure your domain supports it, and sometimes the setup might require different settings or ports—it’s not just a matter of checking the “use SSL” box—so check your email account’s help page for more details. If it doesn’t support SSL, make sure you quit the application when you’re on an insecure public network..

4. Consider Using a Virtual Private Network

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks


Unfortunately, not all sites offer SSL encryption. Other search engines and email providers may still be vulnerable to people watching your activity, so if you use one of these sites frequently (or really just want the extra protection), you may want to try using a VPN, or virtual private network. These services let you route all your activity through a separate secure, private network, thus giving you the security of a private network even though you’re on a public one. We’ve detailed
how to set up a VPN with Hamachi, though there are a number of great services—check out our Hive Five for best VPN tools for more ideas. If all that’s a bit too complicated, you can always go with previously mentioned Hotspot Shield, which is a fairly popular app that will run in the background and set up the VPN automatically.

5. Turn It Off When You’re Not Using It

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
If you want to guarantee your security and you’re not actively using the internet, simply turn off your Wi-Fi. This is extremely easy in both Mac and Windows. On a Mac, just click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and select the turn off AirPort option. On Windows, you can just right-click on the wireless icon in the taskbar to turn it off. Again, this isn’t all that useful if you need the internet, but when you’re not actively using it, it’s not a bad idea to just turn it off for the time being. The longer you stay connected, the longer people have to notice you’re there and start snooping around.

How to Automate Your Public Wi-Fi Security Settings

You don’t want to have to manually adjust all of these settings every single time you go back and forth between the coffee shop and your secure home network. Luckily, there are a few ways to automate the process so you automatically get extra protection when connected to a public Wi-Fi network.

On Windows

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
When you first connect to any given network on Windows, you’ll be asked whether you’re connecting to a network at your home, work, or if it’s public. Each of these choices will flip the switch on a preset list of settings. The public setting, naturally, will give you the most security. You can customize what each of the presets entails by opening your Control Panel and navigating to Network and Sharing Center -> Advanced Sharing Settings. From there, you can turn network discovery, file sharing, public folder sharing, media streaming, and other options on or off for the different profiles.

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

That’s a good start, but what if you want a bit more control? Previously mentioned NetSetManis a great program to customize your network profiles for different networks; you choose your IP address, DNS server, or even run scripts (opening the window for pretty much any action) every time you connect to one of your preset networks.

On OS X

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
On OS X, you don’t have a lot of options for automating your network preferences, but
previously mentioned Airport Location will do everything you could possibly want and more. With it, you can turn on your firewall, turn off SMTP mail, connect to a VPN, and a whole lot more, all depending on the network you’ve connected to. Heck, you can even change your desktop background for each given network, as well as run Applescripts for those functions that just aren’t built in to the app.

In Your Browser

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
The
previously mentioned HTTPS Everywhere Firefox extension automatically chooses the secure HTTPS option for a bunch of popular web sites, including the New York Times, Twitter, Facebook, Google Search, and others, ensuring secure HTTPS connections to any supported web site, every time you visit. You can even add your own to their XML config file. Note that as a Firefox extension, this works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Consider a Safety-First Approach

If you’re a real road warrior, you may find yourself adding so many profiles that automating your safe settings at every step along the way may seem like a lot of work. While most chains like Starbucks or McDonald’s should have the same names for each of their Wi-Fi networks (and thus your profiles will carry over), an better approach may be to make your more secure settings the default for your system, and create just one profile for your home network. Thus, by default, file sharing would be turned off, your firewall would be at its most secure state, and so on—then, when you return home to your protected network, you can have Airport Location or NetSetMan turn your less secure settings on.


This isn’t all-encompassing by any means, but should give you a good quick checklist of things you should do every time you connect to a public network. There are certainly a number of other things you could do (such as setting up a SOCKS proxy over SSH), but these steps will take you a long way on the road to security when you’re browsing on those public hotspots. Of course, some of you already have your own public browsing routines, so be sure to share your safe networking tips in the comments.

Send an email to Whitson Gordon, the author of this post, at whitson@lifehacker.com.


Read more via: http://lifehacker.com/5576927/how-to-stay-safe-on-public-wi+fi-networks?skyline=true&s=i

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Filed under: Computer Matters, Internet Security, Mobile Technology, Technology,

Study on Cell Phone Link to Cancer Inconclusive

As mobile phones began to increase in popularity, concerns arose that long-term cell phone could cause brain tumors. But a major, decade-long international study which researchers hoped would settle the issue has instead proved inconclusive.

According to The Associated Press, a 10-year survey of almost 13,000 participants found most cell phone use did not increase users’ risk of developing meningioma, a common and frequently benign tumor, or glioma, a rarer but deadlier form of cancer.

The study, conducted by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, found that there were “suggestions” that using cell phones for more than 30 minutes each day could increase the risk of glioma, the APreported. But the authors added that “biases and error prevent a causal interpretation” that would directly blame cell phone radiation for the tumor.

Cell phones carry radio waves that are similar to those of microwave ovens, but there is no support for the claim that these waves have negative effects on the body.

Researchers also admitted that cell phone use has greatly increased in the decade since the study began, possibly skewing the numbers.

“The users in the study were light users compared to today,” Professor Elisabeth Cardis of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

Critics of the study also argue that its creators ignored several important factors, including the slow growth rate of brain tumors, which could take up to 25 years to form.

Creators of the study plan to release a comprehensive overview of available research within two years. Researchers are also looking to see if cell phones increase the development of cancerous tumors in the ear’s acoustic nerve. Another study will also examine cell phone’s affects on children, who many believe are more susceptible to radiation.

“Until stronger conclusions can be drawn one way or another it may be reasonable to reduce one’s exposure,” Cardis told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “One way to do this would be to make calls using a hands-free device.”

By AFRO Staff

Source: http://www.afro.com/sections/news/afro_briefs/story.htm?storyid=1418

Filed under: Computer Matters, Mobile Technology, Scientific Study, , ,

China receives “SUPER” computer lift

BEIJING, June 2 — A Chinese supercomputer has been ranked the world’s second-fastest machine in a list issued by United States and European researchers.

The accolade enhances China’s ambitions to become a global technology center.

The Nebulae system at the National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen of south China’s Guangdong Province came in behind the US Department of Energy’s Jaguar in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, according to the list released yesterday.

Supercomputers are used for complex work such as modeling weather systems, simulating nuclear explosions and designing jetliners.

The semiannual TOP500 list highlighted China’s efforts to join the US, Europe and Japan among the global technology elite and its sharp increases in research spending, driven by booming economic growth even amid the global crisis.

Nebulae was built by China’s Dawning Information Industry but uses processors from Intel and NVIDIA, both American companies.

The Nebulae is capable of sustained computing of 1.271 petaflops – or 1,271 trillion calculations – per second, according to TOP500.

By Lin Zhi

Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/sci/2010-06/02/c_13328986.htm

Filed under: Computer Matters,

First human infected with computer virus

Guys, here’s a British scientist who claims that he has become the first ever person to become infected with a computer virus.  Here’s the video clip of the experiment with an electronic chip that was inserted in to his arm and then infected with a computer virus, any other chips that comes in to contact with the infected chip can also be infected.

Dr Mark Gasson from the University of Reading contaminated a computer chip which was then inserted into his hand.

The device, which enables him to pass through security doors and activate his mobile phone, is a sophisticated version of ID chips used to tag pets.

In trials, Dr Gasson showed that the chip was able to pass on the computer virus to external control systems.

If other implanted chips had then connected to the system they too would have been corrupted, he said.

For more information go to the BBC site (http://bit.ly/9kmofa)

Filed under: Computer Matters, Internet Security,

Facebook founder out to fix ‘a bunch of mistakes’

Source: Channel NewsAsia

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SAN FRANCISCO : Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday said the social networking service has made blunders that it hopes to fix with coming changes to its privacy controls.

Zuckerberg issued a mea culpa in an email exchange with popular technology blogger Robert Scoble, who shared it at his website after purportedly getting Zuckerberg’s permission.

“I want to make sure we get this stuff right this time,” said a message attributed to Zuckerberg.

“I know we’ve made a bunch of mistakes, but my hope at the end of this is that the service ends up in a better place and that people understand that our intentions are in the right place and we respond to the feedback from the people we serve.”

Zuckerberg, who turned 26 years old on May 14, said Facebook would start talking publicly this week about privacy control modifications.

“We’ve been listening to all the feedback and have been trying to distill it down to the key things we need to improve,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“We’re going to be ready to start talking about some of the new things we’ve built this week.”

Facebook on Saturday said it plans to simplify privacy controls at the popular social-networking service to appease critics.

Facebook contended that members like new programmes rolled out at the California-based Internet hotspot but want easy ways to opt out of sharing personal information with third-party applications or websites.

Features introduced last month include the ability for partner websites to incorporate Facebook data, a move that would further expand the social network’s presence on the Internet.

Facebook has been under fire from US privacy and consumer groups, US lawmakers and the European Union over new features that critics claim compromise the privacy of its more than 400 million members.

– AFP/il

Filed under: Computer Matters, Internet Security, Social Network, Sorsogon News Updates,

Facebook adds new security tools amid criticisms over privacy


WASHINGTON: Facebook has added new security tools to prevent hacking and held a staff meeting at its California headquarters amid a growing storm over privacy at the social network.

The new security features, unveiled Thursday, include giving members the ability to approve which devices they commonly use to log on to Facebook — a home computer or a mobile phone, for example — through an “Account Settings” page.
“Once you’ve done this, whenever someone logs in to your account from a device not on this list, we’ll ask the person to name the device,” Facebook software engineer Lev Popov said in a blog post.

Facebook members would receive an email notification or a text message if someone tries to access their account from a device that has not been approved.
“This notification will provide steps on how to reset your password and remove the device, so you can quickly secure your account if it’s being accessed from a device you don’t recognize,” Popov said.

He said Facebook had also built in controls to “block suspicious logins before they happen” by asking for proof of identity, such as a birth date.
The new security tools were unveiled as Facebook comes under fire from US privacy and consumer groups, lawmakers and the European Union over new features that critics claim compromise the privacy of its more than 400 million members.
Amid the criticism, Facebook held a staff meeting at its Palo Alto offices to discuss its privacy strategy.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the meeting in a statement to several technology blogs but said details of the internal discussions would not be released.
“We have an open culture and it should come as no surprise that we’re providing a forum for employees to ask questions on a topic that has received a lot of outside interest,” the spokesperson said.

The new features introduced last month include the ability for partner websites to incorporate Facebook data, a move that would further expand the social network’s presence on the Internet.

A European Union group slammed the recent changes this week, saying “it is unacceptable that the company fundamentally changed the default settings on its social-networking platform to the detriment of a user.”

The EU group, known as the Article 29 Working Party, said user profile information “is limited to self-selected contacts” and any further access “should be an explicit choice of the user.”
Last week, over a dozen US privacy and consumer protection groups filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission accusing Facebook of “unfair and deceptive” practices.
“Facebook continues to manipulate the privacy settings of users and its own privacy policy so that it can take personal information provided by users for a limited purpose and make it widely available for commercial purposes,” they said.

Four US senators, in a letter to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg last month, said they worried that personal information about Facebook users is being made available to third party websites.

The senators expressed concerns about privacy ramifications saying “Facebook now obligates users to make publicly available certain parts of their profile that were previously private.”
Sharing personal information should be an “opt-in” procedure in which a user specifically gives permission for data to be shared, they said.

– AFP/jy

Source: Channel News Asia

Filed under: Computer Matters, Social Network,

FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS HACKED

Facebook accounts hacked

By: Channel NewsAsia – Saturday, December 12

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SINGAPORE: Right before her eyes, Julie Chiang watched the computer screen as someone used her Facebook account — pretending to be her, asking her friend for money and claiming she had been mugged in London.

“It was surreal to watch the conversation happen right in front of me,” said Ms Chiang, who had been woken up in Singapore by her friend’s phone call on Friday morning.

“He told me he was on Facebook now, talking to ’me’, and I was saying I needed money to go home.”

The hacker even used Ms Chiang’s husband’s name, which could be found on her Facebook profile, in the conversation.

Even as the unfolding scam began to dawn on her, a second friend living in New Zealand messaged her to say she was having the same conversation.

Reports of such incidents — known as a 419 scam — though few, are on the rise among Facebook users.

Fraudulent individuals collect log—in information through phishing sites and access Facebook accounts to send inbox or chat messages or to update the person’s profile. And they claim to be stranded in a foreign country and ask friends to send money, usually through a money transfer service.

“While the total number of people who have been impacted is small, we take any threat to security seriously and are redoubling our efforts to combat the scam,” said Facebook in a blog post in September.

The scam had previously been perpetrated through emails.

But more cyber criminals are leveraging on social engineering as a means of deceiving users, said systems engineering manager Ronnie Ng from Symantec Singapore.

“Social engineering takes advantage of our natural tendency to trust one another, rather than relying solely on technological means to steal information,” he said.

Indeed, Ms Leong Su—Lin, who was chatting with “Julie” yesterday morning, said the scam seemed believable because it was a “live” conversation.

“Someone was actually responding to the questions I was asking; it wasn’t an automated thing, which is why I went along with it,” Ms Leong, 32, told MediaCorp from New Zealand.

“They were also hitting on a ’soft spot’ by saying she was hurt. I was very concerned, so although she sounded a bit strange, I thought maybe it’s because she was still traumatised.”

But something felt amiss. “I thought it was strange she was on Facebook and not at the police station or at an embassy,” she said.

Mr Ng said people need to be more aware of where they post personal information and who they allow on their social networks. In addition, online users should be careful of clicking on links from unknown senders and use up—to—date security software, he advised.

“They should also be on their guard if they receive suspicious messages from friends, such as requests for money,” he said. “Users should always double—check with their friend. When in doubt, do a search on the Internet to see if it’s a known scam.”

Thankfully for Ms Chiang’s friends, they did just that, and she has since reported the incident to Facebook. “I’ve not heard of this happening, so it’ll be good for more people to know about it,” she said.

The online conversation

(5:17:46 PM) Julie Chiang: Terence and I are stuck in London at the moment

(5:17:55 PM) Derrick Lim: are u there for a holiday?

(5:18:16 PM) Julie Chiang: Vacation

(5:18:27 PM) Julie Chiang: Got mugged at gun point last night …

(5:19:00 PM) Julie Chiang: All cash,credit card and cell were stolen off me

(5:19:11 PM) Julie Chiang: I also got injured

(5:19:19 PM) Derrick Lim: oh no ….

(5:19:45 PM) Derrick Lim: what injury?

(5:20:01 PM) Julie Chiang: Little bruises all over my neck

(5:21:45 PM) Julie Chiang: I need your help to get back home?

(5:21:57 PM) Derrick Lim: my help? ….

(5:22:38 PM) Julie Chiang: Our flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now and we’re having problem settling hotel bills

(5:23:02 PM) Julie Chiang: I need you to loan me few bucks to settle the bills and get a cab to he Airport

(5:23:59 PM) Derrick Lim: ok

(5:24:42 PM) Julie Chiang: You can have it wired to my name and Location through western union ….

(5:27:27 PM) Derrick Lim: can u email me the details?

(5:27:45 PM) Julie Chiang: sure

(5:27:52 PM) Julie Chiang: Name Julie Chiang

(5:28:19 PM) Julie Chiang: Location — London, United Kingdom

(5:28:28 PM) Julie Chiang: You can try it online right now

(5:30:18 PM) Julie Chiang: Visit www.westernunion.com

(5:30:58 PM) Derrick Lim: ok

(5:31:18 PM) Julie Chiang: You will have to do it with your credit card

(5:31:22 PM) Derrick Lim: yes

— TODAY/so

Filed under: Computer Matters, OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, Scam, Social Network, Sorsogon News Updates, What's Happening Here?,

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