Public Browsing: How Safe is It?
If you spend a lot of time working on your computer, it can be nice to get a change of scenery, and take your laptop to the local coffee shop to work while you enjoy a latte. Before you make a regular habit out of that, it’s important to understand the risks associated with it. While it might be a great way to get a change of scenery, it might also be a great way to put your personal data at risk.
One good rule to follow is that if you don’t need any sort of login information for the network, or any encryption information (such as a WEP key) then the network is completely open to anyone. That’s fine if you just want to brows the web while you’re drinking your coffee, but if you enter any sensitive information into any websites while browsing under those conditions, it could be very easy for someone to get their hands on it.
In fact, the more often you browse the web at that particular place under those particular conditions, the more risk you face. Programs called packet sniffers can pull your information piece by piece out of the wireless connection. It can take a long time for a packet sniffer to grab anything important or sensitive, and even when it does, it can take even longer to get every piece of that information, but given enough time, you will be putting your data at risk is someone’s trying to gather sensitive information from other users on the network.
It can also be very dangerous to leave your computer unattended in a public place. Most places have some security measures in place to allow you to lock your laptop to the spot you’re sitting at, but theft is only one thing to worry about. If you leave your laptop unattended for even two minutes, someone might have enough time to sit down at it, and get at your personal information. With the right piece of software loaded onto a thumbdrive, they could have a lot of valuable information about you in just a few short minutes.
If the network you’re browsing on is secure, and you don’t let your computer out of your sight, then browsing in public can be a very relaxing and enjoyable experience. Otherwise, it carries many risks that you might not have thought about before. Keep that in mind the next time you take your laptop to the local coffee shop.
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Douglass Doggett, Sr.
Douglass Doggett, Sr. is a principal at Manufacturers Technology Outlet and has over 40 years experience in the technology industry. The firm specializes in providing new and manufacturer refurbished technology products at deep discounts. You can visit our blog http://blog.mantecho.com to view other articles or go to our website http://www.mantecho.com, sign up on our VIP list for Special Discounts and Updates…we’ll ship your first order absolutely Free!