Your Money ; Scam Alert
; Save a Buck
How to protect your data in a public space
Hot Spot Hacker By Sid Kirchheimer
You think you’re logging into the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi network to check your
email. But you may actually be connecting to a
Scammers have gone
public, invading libraries, airports, hotel lobbies,
coffee shops and other
spaces that offer public Wi-Fi network connections to the Internet.
With hacking tools that are easily available online, sometimes for free, scammers can create their
own parallel wireless networks that mimic the
name or look of a bona fide establishment’s hot
spot. So you think you’re on the shop’s network,
but you’re really on the hacker’s.
Or you can be specifically targeted after you’ve
connected to a shop’s network with your laptop or
smartphone. The hacker, perhaps someone sitting
at a table just across the room, is able to intercept
your transmissions and read them.
The crook knows what you may not, that many
Wi-Fi networks are not secure, allowing for easy
pickings of your personal data—email addresses,
cellphone numbers and passwords. And if you bank
or shop online while connected to these networks,
your financial account numbers are at risk, too.
So if you use Wi-Fi in public spaces, follow these
10 tips to safeguard your information:
just a few
How to protect yourself
1. Set your laptop or smart
phone so you have to manually select the Wi-Fi network.
You may need to change the
2. Make sure you know the
exact name of the establishment’s Wi-Fi network and
connect only to it. Don’t be
fooled by look-alikes.
3. Avoid any hot spot that your
device lists as “unsecured.”
Keep in mind that even if a
password is required, a hot
spot can still be unsecured.
4. If your device shows the site
as secured, pay attention to what kind of encryp-
tion it lists. WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) is an
early system, dating from over a decade ago. If it’s
WEP, treat the network as not secure. WPA (Wi-Fi
Protected Access) is better, and WPA2 is best of all.
5. If you send personal data over a Wi-Fi link, do
so only to an encrypted website. You can tell a
site is encrypted if you see the letters “https” (the
“s” stands for “secure”) at the beginning of its
web address. Also, look for a lock icon on the top
or bottom of pages throughout the site.
6. Before using a public Wi-Fi network, install
such software as Force-TLS and HTTPS-Every-where, which are free add-ons to the Firefox
browser. They make sure you use encryption
features available on websites you visit. Virtual
private network software—some of it free, some
not—can also add security.
7. As with your home computer, change your
passwords frequently and make them hard to
crack by including digits and symbols. Use different ones for different websites.
8. Keep your security software up to date and pay
attention to on-screen warnings.
9. Turn off Wi-Fi when you’re not using it.
10. If you can connect by laptop or smartphone,
use the phone. It’s generally harder to hack. ;
miles will expire before you
can use them?
If you’re a not-so-frequent flier, you don’t have to book a ticket
to keep the miles: Just create
other “activity” in your account.
One way is to shop at an airline’s
online shopping mall. “Even if you
merely buy a 99-cent i Tune, you’ll
keep your miles safe for at least
another year,” says George Hobica
of Airfare Watchdog.com.
Purchases with an airline-brand-ed credit card can also keep miles
alive. Or check your airline’s website for dining programs in which
you enroll an existing credit card
to earn—and preserve—miles
when you eat at participating restaurants. —Sid Kirchheimer
; Hang On to
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your
Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.
Never mind what
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Utah gives a state
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In Florida, green cars carrying just the
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various highways in New York and New
Jersey, though generally only if the car
has the state’s license plate. Most
Kimpton boutique hotels offer free
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hybrid vehicles. —Joan Rattner Heilman
; Surprise Savings
With Green Cars