Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

How to be a (safe) Wi-Fi warrior

Protect your privacy on the road.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)


(Fortune Small Business) -- Wireless technology makes it easier than ever to work from the road. But laptops get stolen and Wi-Fi networks at airports, coffee shops and hotels can expose users to increasingly sophisticated forms of cybercrime.

"You're insecure if you're on any publicly available network," says Ken Silva, chief technology officer at Internet security firm VeriSign (VRSN). Silva adds that basic measures, like installing a firewall and antivirus software, are no longer enough to protect your data. What's a telecommuter to do?

First, Silva recommends investing in e-mail and hard-drive encryption software and backing up critical work before you travel. If you must use public Wi-Fi, he says, scrutinize the sites you visit and send data only through certified secure and encrypted pages, indicated by a lock-shaped icon and https: at the beginning of the URL.

Yankee Group analyst Phil Hochmuth suggests setting up a virtual private network (VPN), which lets you use your business network and its security applications from remote locations. If you're not using a VPN, he says, think twice before sending sensitive information such as Social Security or credit-card numbers.

Log in to only one network at a time and disable any file- and network-sharing features on your device, even if you do use a VPN, adds Devin Akin, chief technology officer at CWNP, a firm that certifies IT professionals working with wireless networks. Otherwise, uninvited guests can easily sift through your files, install malware on your hard drive and gain access to your company or home network.

Akin also warns of "evil twins": Wi-Fi decoys that resemble legitimate services but are set up by hackers who use them to gather passwords and other vital information from unsuspecting users. To avoid them, connect only to Wi-Fi networks that display certified-secure and encrypted log-in pages.

Finally, don't ignore the low-tech risk of over-the-shoulder snoops. Install a privacy filter on your laptop (made by 3M and other vendors) to shield your screen in close quarters.  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.

Ask a Question

QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
Get Answer
- Spate, Orange, Calif.

Top luxury hotel suites for business travelers For many people, you can't put a price on comfort. More
Million-dollar startups: These firms scored big sales their first year Their first year in business, these companies generated $1 million in sales. More
The 10 best states for retirees It might be worth moving to a new place to find your dream retirement home. Check out these 10 states. More