Is sensitive info secure in public places?

Archived from groups: (More info?)

Hi -
I'm new to wi-fi and home networking, so I'm probably too ignorant to even
ask a question. I have a concern, though, that I'd appreciate your help
with. I just bought a new wi-fi equipped laptop, and I plan on taking it on
a trip. If I go into a place that provides wireless internet service, are
my passwords, bank account information, and other private data on my machine
accessible to hackers? Someone told me that I could be sitting in
McDonald's surfing the web, and a hacker could be at another table or even
outside the building stealing everything on my computer. If I were to log
into my checking account, could someone else get my account number or
password? What should I do before using the internet in a public place?
Thanks in advance for your help. ......Pam
5 answers Last reply
More about sensitive info secure public places
  1. Archived from groups: (More info?)

    On 15-Sep-2005, " Pam" <per1818@nospam.planttel.net> wrote:

    <snipped>

    > What should I do before using the internet in a public place?
    > Thanks in advance for your help. ......Pam

    Pam, to directly answer your question, if you are going to be using these
    public hot spots, it is recommended that you disable file and print sharing
    on your computer. Doing that will keep the casual snooper from gaining
    access to your files and folders. Also, I recommend that you keep your web
    surfing to a minimum, i.e., webmail, casual browsing, games, et al. I do not
    recommend doing any internet banking and other money related transactions
    while in a public hot spot. Anyway, I hope I was of some help to you. Take
    care.

    --
    Just Me, D
  2. Archived from groups: (More info?)

    > surfing to a minimum, i.e., webmail, casual browsing, games, et al. I do not
    > recommend doing any internet banking and other money related transactions
    > while in a public hot spot. Anyway, I hope I was of some help to you. Take

    Any financial transaction should be on a page protected by SSL. Opening
    the certificate and checking the authenticity and certificate chain
    would be a good start. There's a potential to create alarm and paranoia
    without explaining that such transactions *should* be protected, it's
    not like it's all in the clear and instantly sniffable.

    If XP, turning on the local firewall or using a third party one is a
    good idea too.

    David.
  3. Archived from groups: (More info?)

    On Thu, 15 Sep 2005 19:20:39 +0000, Pam wrote:

    > Hi -
    > I'm new to wi-fi and home networking, so I'm probably too ignorant to even
    > ask a question. I have a concern, though, that I'd appreciate your help
    > with. I just bought a new wi-fi equipped laptop, and I plan on taking it on
    > a trip. If I go into a place that provides wireless internet service, are
    > my passwords, bank account information, and other private data on my machine
    > accessible to hackers? Someone told me that I could be sitting in
    > McDonald's surfing the web, and a hacker could be at another table or even
    > outside the building stealing everything on my computer. If I were to log
    > into my checking account, could someone else get my account number or
    > password? What should I do before using the internet in a public place?
    > Thanks in advance for your help. ......Pam

    A hacker can obtain your passwords and other info by "sniffing" your
    packets unless you are using some form of encryption. Odds are that your
    bank establishes an encrypted link with your PC so I wouldn't worry too
    much about your bank passwords or financial data being intercepted via
    packet sniffing. You should see a closed lock displayed in your browser to
    indicate an SSL encrypted web page. Mozilla Firefox changes the URL field
    background to yellow to indicate an encrypted link also. I don't think IE
    does that.
  4. Archived from groups: (More info?)

    On 15-Sep-2005, David Taylor <djtaylor@bigfoot.com> wrote:

    > Any financial transaction should be on a page protected by SSL. Opening
    > the certificate and checking the authenticity and certificate chain
    > would be a good start. There's a potential to create alarm and paranoia
    > without explaining that such transactions *should* be protected, it's
    > not like it's all in the clear and instantly sniffable.

    I'm fully aware SSL transactions. That little tidbit that I posted for Pam
    was of a personal nature. In other words, It's an old habit I've maintained
    from the early days of personal computing. To this day, I do all of my
    financial transactions via ethernet. I apologize for not explaining in
    detail earlier. Take care.

    --
    Just Me, D
  5. Archived from groups: (More info?)

    Thanks, guys. I really appreciate the information. ........Pam
    " Pam" <per1818@nospam.planttel.net> wrote in message
    news:bQjWe.332173$_o.14672@attbi_s71...
    > Hi -
    > I'm new to wi-fi and home networking, so I'm probably too ignorant to even
    > ask a question. I have a concern, though, that I'd appreciate your help
    > with. I just bought a new wi-fi equipped laptop, and I plan on taking it
    > on a trip. If I go into a place that provides wireless internet service,
    > are my passwords, bank account information, and other private data on my
    > machine accessible to hackers? Someone told me that I could be sitting in
    > McDonald's surfing the web, and a hacker could be at another table or even
    > outside the building stealing everything on my computer. If I were to log
    > into my checking account, could someone else get my account number or
    > password? What should I do before using the internet in a public place?
    > Thanks in advance for your help. ......Pam
    >
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