July 18, 2008
Dear CNET members,
Happy Friday folks! I hope everyone is doing well. This
week's topic is on the safety concerns of using public Wi-Fi
(wireless fidelity) and was submitted by Margaret. For those
of you who are new to using Wi-Fi publicly, pay attention
because there is a lot of great information provided by our
members that will likely help you learn the dos and don'ts.
Let's get started.
Public Wi-Fi access (free or paid) is one of those services
that I find invaluable, and I really can't imagine being
without it now. In fact, a few times in an emergency, it
saved me because I dearly needed Internet access. Margaret, I
remember the first time I used public Wi-Fi access. I was
skeptical and hesitant and never knew what to expect; after
all, it was public and information in the airwaves can be
captured. So I'm glad you asked and shared your concerns and
want to know more about this topic. While I will let our
members' answers address your questions (a few picks below in
the Q&A), I do have a few pointers that I'd like to share.
Margaret, you ultimately are the first line of defense for
staying safe and a little common sense goes a long way. So
make sure you have a firewall set up and running. Keep your
antivirus protection up to date and your sensitive data
secured--even separately on a drive that is not connected to
your laptop when accessing public Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi service
is great. Paid Wi-Fi may be a bit safer (offering you better
protection since most have encryption in place), but a wired
connection is always best. But then again, wired or
wireless--there are no guarantees. And when accessing public
Wi-Fi (free or paid), don't transmit anything that you
wouldn't write on a postcard and send for the world to see,
unless it is absolutely necessary. So with that said, good
luck with your first experience, and I hope it is a positive
We have many great answers in place for you from our
members--ranging from technical setup to ensuring your safety
for using public Wi-Fi to some general good practices. So
read on up and learn! For all members, if you have any
additional dos and don'ts about accessing public Wi-Fi,
please join us in this week's discussion and share a little
about your public Wi-Fi experiences--good or bad. The more we
advise one another, the more we'll all be safer using public
Wi-Fi services with confidence. Thanks everyone! And have a
Member Question of the Week
Please help. I'm taking off on road trip across the country
soon for about a month and I'm lugging my laptop along for
the ride to check e-mail, get maps and directions, and
everything in between to make the best out of my trip. I will
be using a wireless connection to access the Internet at
hotels, Starbucks, and other hot spots that are available,
but my concern is always security in these public areas. At
home I know my wireless connection only allows me to be
connected to it, but when I'm out there in the open, how
vulnerable am I? I see people using Wi-Fi all the time at
coffee shops and airports, but I always wonder how do they
make their system safe from intrusions or threats?! Maybe
they don't. Regardless, I'm not willing to take any chances.
So is there like a list of public Wi-Fi do's and don'ts when
using it to ensure my laptop's safety? I would love to get a
check list of items I will need to do to ensure my
information on my laptop is not compromised. Can you please
help me out here?
Just some member contributions to get you started, but please read through the all answers!
Do's and don'ts for using public Wi-Fi
--Submitted by: Ankit B.
Using public Wi-Fi safely
--Submitted by: Watzman
Securing your computer
--Submitted by: Zouch
Quick safety tips...
--Submitted by: RobertWFrei
Read all member contributions
Thanks to all who contributed!
Previous week's Q&A
Hi! I hope you can help me out. I'm in the process of buying
a new computer and it's already pretty difficult to figure
out what's what with specs and all, but the two bit (pun
intended) is figuring out the differences between 32-bit
versus 64-bit processors. I can only assume the 64-bit
processor is faster, or am I wrong? I'm not very tech savvy,
but I would like to know if it's something I need to consider
when making my new system purchase. The other one bit (pun
intended again) has to do with Windows Vista, do I go 32-bit
or 64-bit version? Are there any advantages of going with
Vista 64-bit? Please help me out, I'm really confused here and
I would love if you could give some simple explanations to
clear up this whole bit between the processor and Vista. One
more thing, will buying a 64-bit PC be somewhat future
proofing my new desktop purchase? Thank you all for your
Thanks to all who contributed!
Each week we take a look at topics discussed in the forums.
Have fun and enjoy!
More from the forums
Check out next week's question:
I have been noticing a lot of people attaching their PC to
their television now. Most people that I know are only using
it as a monitor for their computer, but I know the technology
is farther along than that. Having all my media on the hard
drive seems like a great way to clear the shelves of the
tacky CD & DVD cases, as well as a way to easily access media
files. I would like to know how far along it is. Is using my
PC as a component to my media center a viable option? Is it
really expensive? What are some of the things that I'm not
even aware of? Any info you can provide would be greatly
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