INTERNET, OCTOBER 29, 2010 (PHNO) Wireless hotspots are changing the way people work. These wireless local area networks (LANs) provide high speed Internet connection in public locations—as well as at home—and need nothing more than a mobile PC such as a laptop or notebook computer equipped with a wireless card.

In fact, hotspots are an everyday connection method for travelers and remote workers to browse the Internet, check their email, and even work on their corporate networks while away from the office.

Hotspots range from paid services, such as T-Mobile or Verizon Wireless, to public, free connections. Hot spots are everywhere, including:

Coffee shops, Restaurants, Libraries, Bookstores, Airports, Hotel lobbies

But they all have one thing in common—they are all open networks that are vulnerable to security breaches. And that means it's up to you to protect the data on your PC. In this article, we cover a few tips to make working in public locations more secure.

1. Try to choose more secure connections It's not always possible to choose your connection type—but when you can, opt for wireless networks that require a network security key or have some other form of security, such as a certificate. The information sent over these networks is encrypted, which can help protect your computer from unauthorized access. The security features of different networks appear along with the network name as your PC discovers them.

2. Make sure your firewall is activated A firewall helps protect your mobile PC by preventing unauthorized users from gaining access to your computer through the Internet or a network. It acts as a barrier that checks all incoming information, and then either blocks the information or allows it to come through. All Microsoft Windows operating systems come with a firewall, and you can make sure it's turned on.

To activate the Windows Vista Firewall Click Start and then click Control Panel.

In Control Panel, click Network and Internet.

Under Windows Firewall, click Turn Windows Firewall on or off.

Ensure that On is selected.

To activate the Windows XP Firewall Click Start, and then click Control Panel.

In Control Panel, click Network Connections.

In the Network Connections window, under Network Tasks, click Change Windows Firewall Settings.

In the Windows Firewall dialog box, on the General tab, ensure that On is selected.

In Windows 7 Click the Start button choose the Control Panel option. Click System and Security. The System and Security section of Control Panel opens up and you can see the direct link for the Windows Firewall.

On the left pane, you can see various links like, Change notification settings, Turn Windows Firewall on or off, Restore defaults and Advanced settings etc.

On the right pane, there are two types of networks link for which you can set firewall settings. They are Home or Work (Private) networks and Public networks. By default the Firewall state is ON for both the networks.

[PHOTO AT LEFT - 320 × 480 - Wifi Directory (Wireless Hotspots Finder) for iPhone, iPod touch from

3. Monitor your access points Chances are that there are multiple wireless networks anywhere you're trying to connect. These connections are all access points, because they link into the wired system that gives you Internet access. So how do you make sure you're connecting to the right one? Simple—by configuring your PC to let you approve access points before you connect.

Configure Windows Vista Access Points Windows Vista takes the guesswork out of connecting to hotspots because you are automatically prompted to approve new connections. In addition, after you approve a connection, you assign it a profile for future use.

Configure Windows XP Access Points Click Start, click Control Panel, and then click Network Connections.

Right-click Wireless Network Connection, and then click Properties.

On the Wireless Networks tab, make sure that the Use Windows to configure my wireless network settings check box is selected.

Under Preferred networks, make sure that the name of the network that you want to connect to is highlighted, and then click Advanced.

Click Access point (infrastructure) network only, and then click Close.

In Windows 7 Go to Control Panel and click Network and Internet.

4. Disable file and printer sharing File and printer sharing is a feature that enables other computers on a network to access resources on your computer. When you are using your mobile PC in a hotspot, it's best to disable file and printer sharing—when it's enabled, it leaves your computer vulnerable to hackers. Remember, though, to turn this feature back on when you return to the office.

Disable file and printer sharing in Windows Vista Click Start, and then click Control Panel.

Click Network and Internet, and then click Network and Sharing Center.

Under Sharing and Discovery, click the arrow next to File sharing, click Turn off file sharing, and then click Apply.

Click the arrow next to Printer sharing, click Turn off printer sharing, and then click Apply.

Disable file and printer sharing in Windows XP Click Start, and then click Control Panel.

Click Security Center, and then click Windows Firewall.

Click the Exceptions tab, and then under Programs and Services, clear the File and Printer Sharing check box.


[PHOTO AT LEFT - 487 × 381 - A WiFI usb: USB Wifi to receive signals from wireless hotspots (Photo courtesy of]

5. Make your folders private When the folders on your mobile PC are private, it's more difficult for hackers to access your files.

To make a folder private in Windows Vista Windows Vista not only makes folders private by default, but it also requires passwords for shared folders. As a result, you're already covered! But if you want to double-check, simply right-click on the folder in question, and select Properties. On the Security tab, you can review the set permissions.

To make a folder private in Windows XP Click Start, and then click My Computer.

Click the drive where Windows is installed, and then click Documents and Settings.

Open your user folder, right-click the folder that you want to make private, and then click Properties.

On the Sharing tab, click Do no share this folder, and then click OK.

Repeat the steps above for each folder that you want to make private.

6. Encrypt your files You can protect your files further by encrypting them, which requires a password to open or modify them. Because you must perform this procedure on one file at a time, consider password-protecting only the files that you plan to use while working in a public place.

Encrypt files using Windows Vista. (A third-party cryptographic service provider (CSP) is installed on a computer that is running Windows Vista. You log on to the system by using a smart card that stores the user credentials and the Encrypting File System (EFS) certificate. You try to encrypt files or to decrypt files by using EFS. WHAT TO DO: Click START on your Windows VISTA and type "encrypt file" without the " (quotes) and press ENTER. Look up and click Encrypt & Decrypt software. An Instal-on-demand small window appears. Just follow instructions)

Encrypt files using Windows XP.

Encrypt files using Windows 7 Run WinZip on Windows 7, open the Zip file that you want to encrypt. Press "Encrypt" button at the menu bar. And then it will pop up a window to ask you to enter the encryption password, type your password twice and click "OK" button, now the Zip file will be encrypted on Windows 7. WinZip enable users to compress, decompress and encrypt files, documents for you in order to save for disc space for storage.

7. Consider completely removing sensitive data from your notebook PC If you're working with extremely sensitive data, it might be worth taking it off your notebook PC altogether. Instead, save it on a corporate network share and access it only when necessary. This way, you have multiple safeguards in place.

A few simple precautions can help make working in public places more secure. And by selecting the best connections and adjusting settings, you can enjoy productive and safe work sessions no matter where you are.

FINALLY: What is WiFi? Wireless or WiFi technology is another way of connecting your computer to the network using radio frequency and no network cables.

Wireless works similarly to cordless phones; they transmit data from one point to another through radio signals. But wireless technology also requires that you be within the wireless network range area to be able to connect your computer.

There are three different types of wireless networks:

Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN): WLAN are wireless networks that use radio waves. The backbone network usually uses cables, with one or more wireless access points connecting the wireless users to the wired network. The range of a WLAN can be anywhere from a single room to an entire campus.

Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN): WPANs are short-range networks that use Bluetooth technology. They are commonly used to interconnect compatible devices near a central location, such as a desk. A WPAN has a typical range of about 30 feet.

Wireless Wide Area Networks (WWAN): WWANs are created through the use of mobile phone signals typically provided and maintained by specific mobile phone (cellular) service providers. WWANs can provide a way to stay connected even when away from other forms of network access. Also, be aware that additional charges are often associated with the usage of WWANs in some locations.
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